The Chinook salmon was introduced to
Ontario waters in 1875 to 1882 and in 1919 to 1925, and more
immediate interest because of the introduction of the chum and
pink salmon, two other Pacific coast species, into tributaries
of the Hudson Bay and James Bay in 1955 and 1956.
The Chinook salmon is known by a variety of
other common names, for example, king, tyee, spring and quinnat.
Its scientific name is Oncorhynchus tshawytscha.
Oncorhynchus means hooked snout, and tshawytscha is the
vernacular name in Kamchatka.
The back of the chinook salmon is greenish,
fading to silvery on the sides and belly. The colour at spawning
time is almost black on the back and sides. The back, dorsal fin,
and both lobes of the tail fin are profusely covered with black
spots. The silver salmon (coho), with which the spring salmon
may be confused, has black spotting on the upper half of the
tail fin, only, and the spots are smaller than those of the
The usual weight attained by this robust,
deep-bodied fish is 16 to 30 lb. Few up to 100 lb. have been
taken. The world’s record chinook salmon taken by angling
weighed 93 lb.
Of all the Pacific salmon, the spring probably ranges the most
widely, from central California to Alaska and south on the
Asiatic coast to northern China. In Ontario they are
primarily in the great lakes along with occasional sightings in
The spring salmon spend the greater portion of their lives in
the sea, where the major growth takes place, the fish reaching
maturity in three to seven years.
The streams in which spawning takes place are of large
size and good flow, probably correlated with the size of the
fish, since the spring salmon usually
range in size from 16 to 30 lb.
Spawning takes place in the fall, from
mid-September to. mid-November, at a temperature range,
approximately, from 10°C. to 3°C.
Broad, shallow nests or redds, two to four
feet wide, are dug in the gravel by the female in fairly deep,
fast-flowing water. By the movements of her body, the female
loosens the gravel, which piles up behind the excavation, which
may vary in
Mating occurs over the pit of the nest. Milt
from the male and eggs from the female are discharged at the
same time, and fertilization of the eggs takes place as they
fall to the bottom of the nest. In the nest there are successive
layers of gravel and eggs, which are usually buried to a depth
of one foot, but with the shifting of the gravel in winter, this
depth may be increased. It is the gravel that is loosened in
front of the excavation that is used to cover the eggs.
The average number of eggs laid by a single
female is about 5,000 and these may be deposited in several
Food: The first food is plankton; later,
insects, insect larvae and small fish.