Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum, 1792)
member of the Salmon Family (Salmonidae)
St. Louis River, St. Louis County, Minnesota 18 September 1997
photo by Konrad Schmidt
In a Name?
Do They Live?
The chinook salmon is an introduced exotic species. Like the coho and pink salmon, chinook salmon normally live in the Pacific Ocean and spawn in streams of eastern Russia and north western United States. In Minnesota, chinook salmon live only in Lake Superior and some of its north shore tributaries. Chinook spend most of their lives in Lake Superior and come into the streams when it is time to spawn. Many attempts were made in the late 1800s to stock chinook in inland lakes of Minnesota. Ultimately, all of these attempts failed.
Big Do They Get?
Do They Eat?
While living in the parent stream, young chinooks consume a variety of terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) insects and sideswimmers. After moving to Lake Superior, they begin to consume a variety of fish, especially smelt and ciscoes.
Do They Reproduce?
The eggs hatch in the spring and the alevins (free-swimming embryos) spend 2-3 more weeks in the gravel before they swim up and begin to feed. In the west coast streams chinooks remain in the stream for 1 to 2 years before they migrate to the ocean. In North Shore streams, most young chinook migrate to the lake with in a few weeks after swimming up. Chinook reproduction in North Shore streams is extremely low at present.
Permission is granted for the non-commercial educational or scientific use of the text and images on this Web document. Please credit the author or authors listed below.
Photographs by Konrad P. Schmidt
Text by Ted Halpern, Nicole Paulson & Jay T. Hatch in cooperation with
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' MinnAqua Aquatic Program
This page developed with funds from the
MinnAqua Program (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fisheries)
Sport Fish Restoration Program (Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of the Interior)
Maintained by Jay T. Hatch
General College and James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Last updated 23 October 2002