Species Identifying Lake Michigan Fish 

Great Lakes Species Salmon & Trout
Identifying  Lake Michigan Fish Species

chinook Chinook Salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha  
Common Name(s):    King salmon, spring salmon
Description:    The Chinook salmon is silver in color with dark spots. The spots on the Chinook salmon will generally cover all the head, back, dorsal and adipose fin as well as the squared tail. The Chinook can be distinguished from other salmon is by its black mouth and gums. The similar looking Coho has a black mouth and white gums.  Feeding Habits:  They feed on land and aquatic insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans such as while young, and primarily on other fish when older.  Range: Chinook salmon range from Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, to Santa Barbara, California. Spawning and rearing Chinook are found in most of the rivers in this region, with significant runs in the Columbia River, Rogue River, and Puget Sound.  Habitat: Chinook salmon remain at sea between 3 and 5 years. The Chinook choose to spawn in streams that are shallow, clear, and cold with a strong upwelling of water through the gravel.  Typical Size:  The Chinook salmon is the biggest of the salmon family reaching sizes up to 58 inches in length and a weight of up to 129 pounds; although Chinook salmon are generally 36 inches in length and weigh up to 30 pounds. The Chinook has a lifespan of 5 to 7 years


coho salmon   Coho Salmon Oncorhynchus kisutc
Common Name(s):    Silver salmon, sea trout,
Description:    Adults in salt water or newly arrived in fresh water are bright silver with small black spots on the back and on the upper lobe of the caudal fin. They can be distinguished from Chinook salmon by the lack of black spots on the lower lobe of the tail and gray gums. Feeding Habits: Coho salmon smolts tend to stay close to shore at first, feeding on plankton. As they grow larger, they move farther out into the ocean and switch to a diet of small fish.  Range: The Coho salmon are found in coastal waters of Alaska from Southeast to Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea and in the Yukon River to the Alaska-Yukon border. They have been found as far south as Baja, California and have been transplanted into the Great Lakes.  Habitat: Some Coho migrate only a short distance into good feeding areas, and stay there; others travel extensively. Coho salmon from California to British Columbia tend to travel north and spend the summer along the central Alaskan coast. Most Alaskan fish travel a counter clockwise path following the currents in the north Pacific Ocean.  Typical Size: Adult Coho salmon usually weigh 8 to 12 pounds and are 24 to 30 inches long. They will live an average of 3 years.

steelhead  Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss
Common Name(s):    Black spotted trout, steelhead, silver trout, bow
Description: Rainbow trout have the typical trout-shape with an adipose fin, and a squarish tail that has black spots throughout. The rainbow trout has 10-12 anal rays and a white mouth and gums.  Similar Fish: Golden trout, cutthroat trout.  Feeding Habits:Rainbow trout are mainly meat eating fish. They feed on a wide variety of prey including insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish and fish eggs.  Range: Rainbow trout are native to North America west of the Rockies from Alaska into northwestern Mexico. Introductions have extended the range to include the Great Lakes region, south central Canada and portions of the Great Plains east of the Rockies, and southwestern Mexico.  Habitat:Rainbows are considered fastwater fish, preferring the swift runs and riffle areas of streams. They may live in small creeks, as well as suitable spots in large rivers, the tailwaters of dams, and in lakes and reservoirs. As trout, rainbows live in cold, clean, well-oxygenated water.  Typical Size:Adult rainbow trout average 20 to 23 inches in length and weigh 4 to 8 pounds. Great Lake rainbows can live 6 to 8 years while most small-stream rainbows only live 3 to 4 years

Brown Trout  Brown Trout  Salmo trutta
Common Name(s):   
German brown trout, brownie.
Description:    Brown trout are brown to gold on their back with a cream to slate-colored belly. Most fish have black, gray, yellow and occasionally red spots all surrounded by a white halo. This species has a very noticeable spotted adipose fin between the dorsal and caudal fin. There are no spots on the squarish tail or wormy marks on the back. These features help to distinguish it from other trout. Similar Fish: Brook trout, lake trout Feeding Habits: Brown trout are mainly meat eaters and really enjoy eating other fish. They also eat both water and land insects, crayfish and other crustaceans.   Range: Brown trout are found throughout the United States. They can be found in the Great Lakes area, down to the northern edge of Georgia and the Appalachians and every state west of Texas and Nebraska to the Pacific Coast.  Habitat: Brown trout prefer cold water with temperatures ranging up to 79 degrees. Their preferred habitat includes areas of boulders, cobble, logs, rootwads and overhead cover. Brown trout will feed in riffles containing rock as small as gravel.  Typical Size: Adult brown trout average 14 to 24 inches in length and 2.5 to 10 pounds in weight. They can live in the wild an average of 12 years.

lake trout   Lake Trout   Salvelinus namaycush
Common Name(s): Char, laker, Great Lakes trout, gray trout
Description: It has white leading edges on all the lower fins and light colored spots on a dark background. Unlike other trout there are no red, black, or haloed spots of any kind.  Similar Fish: Bull trout, brown trout  Feeding Habits: Adult fish are opportunistic feeders their diet consisting of aquatic and land insects, crayfish, plankton. They also eat a range of fish species, including other small lake trout. They have also been known to eat mammals that are small enough for them to swallow  Range: Lake trout are found in much of Canada and Alaska as well as the Great Lakes and sections of the western United States. The lake trout has also been introduced into southern parts of the United States, but they do require deeper lakes to find the cooler water  Habitat: Lake trout that were introduced in southern climates will seek out the cooler and deeper water of the lake. In northern lakes, where the water is naturally cooler, they can be found in either deep or shallow water.
Typical Size: Lake trout average between 20 and 24 inches and 3 to 6 pounds, but are capable of reaching 50 pounds. Lake trout are slow growing and long living capable of living 20 years.


speckled trout  Brook Trout  Salvelinus fontinalis
Common Name(s): Speckled trout, spotted trout, mountain trout, char
Description: With an olive back covered by wormlike markings, fiery spotted flanks, and white-trimmed fins, the brook trout is one of the most colorful fish in freshwater.
Similar Fish: Brown trout, golden trout
 Feeding Habits: In streams they prefer aquatic insects that live under the rocks and along the stream bottom. Land insects, like ants and beetles, that fall into the water are readily eaten, as are small crayfish. They will eat other small fish and minnows but only when they are easy to catch.  Range:The brook trout is native to northeastern North America. Primarily from the Great Lakes, north to the Hudson Bay and east to the Atlantic and Artic Coasts. They are also located in the Appalachians southeast of the Great Lakes to the northeastern corner of Georgia. Brook trout have also been introduced to higher elevations in the western United States.  Habitat:Brook trout inhabit clear, cold mountain streams and lakes. They prefer a water temperature of 57-61 degrees. They are rarely found in water that is warmer then 68 degrees and if temperatures exceed 77-80 degrees it is fatal. Typical Size:The average brook trout is 10-12 inches in length and weigh 4-6 pounds. They are slow growing and short lived fish, rarely making it past 8 years.


rainbow trout  Steelhead Trout   Oncorhynchus mykiss
Common Name(s): Rainbow trout, silver trout, redsides
Description: Steelhead trout are almost identical in genetics to the rainbow trout. They both have the typical trout-shape with an adipose fin, and a squarish tail that has black spots throughout. They have 10-12 anal rays and a white mouth and gums. Steelhead are more silvery in color. Though noted for the broad red or pink stripe along the middle of its sides, the stripe may not be readily apparent on sea-run steelhead or immature specimens in clear lakes.  Similar Fish: Rainbow trout, lake trout  Feeding Habits: Steelhead trout are mainly meat eating fish. They feed on a wide variety of prey including insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish and fish eggs.  Range: Steelhead trout are found primarily in the Great Lakes area and also on the West Coast to Alaska. They need the bigger lakes and ocean to grow to the larger size; their size is what differentiates them from the rainbow trout.  Habitat: What creates the difference between the rainbow and steelhead trout is its habitat. The steelhead are found in the Great Lakes and the rivers of the Pacific coast.  Typical Size: The steelhead trout is like a rainbow trout on steroids. They have the same genetic makeup but steelhead trout can get 2-10 times larger then the rainbow trout.

Great Lakes Tout & Salmon

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