New York State Game Fish
information is intended only as a general overview. Much
more in-depth information can be found on a number of other
web sites. We wanted to show some basic info regarding the
species we fish for.
are the anadromous (migrating) version of rainbow trout.
Rainbow trout are the "land locked" version,
and remain in freshwater throughout their life.
Image at right is for
illustration purposes and will click to a full size photo.
migrate from the ocean into freshwater to spawn, and then
can swim back out to the ocean again if they wish.
Steelhead are not semelparous (meaning they do not die
after spawning) they are not an "official" Pacific
Salmon. But, Steelhead are often a favorite of local fishers
for their large size and feisty attitude.
- Head blunt, jaw short
- does not extend past the eye
- Distinct dark spots
on dorsal fin
- Square-shaped tail
fin with radiating pattern of spots
- Often has reddish stripe
along sides, gill cover reddish
- Length up to 45 inches
Spawn Timing: Late March
through early June
in streams and rivers, steelhead rear in freshwater for
1 to 4 years before migrating downstream through estuaries
to the open ocean. Unlike salmon, steelhead migrate individually
rather than in schools. Steelhead spend 1 to 5 years
at sea before returning to natal streams or rivers.
least two specific stocks of steelhead have developed;
those that enter fresh water during fall, winter and
early spring -- the winter run -- and those that enter
in spring, summer and early fall -- the summer run. Steelhead
do not always die after spawning, but will again migrate
through estuaries to the ocean.
Steelhead rely on streams, rivers, estuaries and marine habitat
during their lifecycle. In freshwater and estuarine habitats,
steelhead feed on small crustaceans, insects and small fishes.
Eggs are laid in small and medium gravel and need good water
flow (to supply oxygen) to survive. After emerging from the redd
(nest) they remain in streams and rivers for 1 to 4 years before
migrating through the estuaries to the ocean.
one of the top 5 game fish in North America. The New York
State record is
held by Rob Wilson. His Steelhead weighed in at 31 pounds
3 ounces. Caught August 14, 2004 out of Olcott, N.Y.
The common name of
this fish species is taken from the Chinook Indians,
a tribe on the northwest coast of America whose survival
was linked to these salmon returning to the Columbia
Other common names
for this largest salmon are King, Spring Salmon, and
Adult chinook salmon
are iridescent green to blue-green on top. The sides
are silvery, turning to white on the belly. Black spots
are present on the upper half of the body and on all
The native range of chinooks in the United States extends
from California to Alaska. They were successfully introduced
into the Great Lakes in 1967.
The natural life cycle of salmon is one of the most interesting
in nature. Salmon lay their eggs in cool, clean rivers and
streams. The female makes a nest, called a redd, by turning
on her side and repeatedly flexing her body and tail to form
an oval depression in the gravel stream bed. She deposits
pea-sized eggs in the nest as a male swims beside her releasing
sperm. The fertilized eggs are covered by gravel displaced
when the female digs the next nest just upstream. This process
is repeated several times before spawning is completed.
eggs stay in the nest all winter and hatch in spring.
Chinook salmon, like all Pacific salmon, die after
spawning. After hatching, the young salmon, called
alevins, remain in the gravel for a month absorbing
nourishment from their yolk sac. When the yolk sac
is absorbed, the small salmon, now called fry, emerge
from the gravel.
Dark stripes on
their sides, called parr marks, help camouflage the
young salmon from larger fish and fish eating birds.
Before juveniles leave fresh water and migrate to the
ocean, they undergo a special process called smolting,
and are called smolts. During this time, they become
silvery in color and their body becomes tolerant to
sea water. The smolts stay in saltwater bays where
the river meets the ocean for several months feeding
on tiny crustaceans and small fish.
are three stages in which you can catch salmon. There
is the Lake Stage, River Mouth Stage and the River Stage.
people who fish the Great Lakes use bigger boats that
tend to troll faster so the only way they can fish
for salmon is with downriggers.
| In the Great Lakes,
you will find that salmon that are feeding tend to hang-out
in a 53 degree thermal layer which is where the bait
fish usually are. Basically, you just have to mark fish
on your fish finder and set your downriggers at different
depths within 20 feet of where you are marking the majority
of the fish. In the summer they can be 150 feet deep
but as the summer moves on, the salmon start to come
In late summer
and early fall, the salmon start staging at the mouth
They are waiting
for the rain to make the water level high enough so
that they can swim up stream and spawn.
the salmon go up small streams, they stop feeding.
In bigger rivers like the Salmon River or the
Niagara River, the salmon will still feed for the
first few days in the river.
Salmon have nothing
on their minds beside spawning. At this time, they
are very aggressive and territorial and will defend
their spawning ground from Rainbow and Brown Trout
which tent to follow salmon up stream to feed on
the salmon start to swim up stream, they genetically
start to disintegrate. Usually by the time they finish
spawning, they are almost dead. Atlantic salmon do
not die after they spawn.
Brown Trout (lake run)
brown trout is primarily a freshwater fish, but can adapt
to salt water.
fish usually grow to 10 lbs or 102 centimeters and
is noted for its fast growth rate.
The brown trout’s
preferred habitats are streams, lakes or brooks.
The brown trout has an olive or brown colored body
and dark brown or red spots. The
tail is square with few or no spots on it. The ideal
temperature for the brown trout is 56°F and 66°F.
trout matures in 3 to 4 years. Females spawn in the
fall, producing about 10,000 eggs. Juvenile
brown trout feed on insects or other invertebrates,
but as the trout matures, they also eat other fish.
first introduction of the brown trout into the United
States was by
the US Fish Commission in 1883 in Michigan State.
brown trout eggs were raised at the Northville
fish were then released into the Pere Marquette River in
the Northern area of the state.
addition, in 1883 the fish was also introduced
into New York State through
the Caledonia Fish Hatchery.
|According to the
DEC, the NY State record for a lake run brown trout
was caught by Tony Brownon 6/10/97 and weighed in at
33 lb. 2 oz. He was fishing Lake Ontario out of Oswego.
salmon, also know
as the silver salmon can be distinguished by the
fine dark spots on the back and upper lobe of the
tail fin, the long anal fin and gray gums.
feed primarily on alewives, smelt, and other small
fish. Adult Coho spawn during the fall in riffle
areas of streams in reds (nests of gravel) which
the females construct.
coho develop a light pink or rose shading along the
belly and the males may show a slight arching of
the back. Mature coho salmon have a pronounced red
skin color with darker backs and average 28 inches
in length and seven to 11 pounds in weight, although
coho weighing up to 36 pounds have been reported.
may be darker than males, with both showing a pronounced
hook on the nose.
spawning is completed, they die. Normally, Coho
have a three year life cycle; however, a few males
will return to spawn at two years of age and are
known as "jacks".
some Coho may live to the age of four.
average mature fall Coho salmon will weigh 2 to
5 pounds before spawning.
offshore in April, May and June is most productive
when using spoons, plugs, spinners and flies and
squids preceded by dodgers. Even whole alewife, herring
and smelt can be successful when trolled.
prefer temperatures in the mid-50s F. and generally
are found nearer the surface than Chinook. After
Coho tend to go deeper to find their preferred
water temperature. Coho may be found in water temperatures
from 45° to 60° F., with a peak feeding
temperature at 54° F.
NY State record Coho salmon was caught by Stephen
M. Sheets Jr., on August 23, 1998 while fishing
in Lake Ontatrio out of the Oswego Marina. The
fish weighed 33 lbs - 7 oz. This beat the previous
record that was caught in Salmon River by 3 oz.
trout also known as laker, can be distinguished
by its white mouth, irregular whitish spots on
the back and sides, deeply forked tail and a white
leading edge on the lower fins.
The diet of
adult lake trout consists of fish, insects and
mature adults weight 6 to 7 pounds at about 6 years
of age. Lake trout may live 20 years or longer
and attain weights of 30 pounds or more.
are usually found on the bottom between depths
of 90 to 250 feet, but may be found at lesser
depths when the water temperature is near 48
During the spring
months, lake trout can be taken in the upper layers
of warmer water, but as the season progresses and
water temperatures go above 48 degrees F., lake trout
are normally taken near the bottom.
the summer months (July-September) they tend
to stay near
the thermocline where temperatures are between 45 and
50 degrees F.
the fall months mature lake trout move into shallow
waters and reef areas in search of spawning areas.
metal spoons are successful lake trout lures
when fished properly. Certain salmon lures and
flies in combination with a dodger also are effective.
Lake trout feed on alewives, herring, smelt,
chubs and sculpins.