Fish Friday with… the Chinook or King Salmon

The Chinook or King Salmon's thick body is blue to brown on the back and upper side, and silver to white on the lower side.

Chinook or King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

The largest North American salmon, the Chinook or King Salmon grows to 58 inches and can weigh over 30 lbs. The Chinook, like the popular Coho of Lake Michigan fisherfolk, lives in the greatest of the Great Lakes because humans put it there on purpose. The modern attempts toward this project began in 1967. But less successful efforts to stock the lake with this ocean native actually date to the 1870s. Though state governments still carry out stocking programs, wild-born fish make up the majority of Chinooks caught by anglers. Note the plural of that last word. In 2021, it took five people to wrestle a 39-pounder into the boat.

The handsome fish bears a resemblance to the Rainbow Trout. Can the Atlas of Illinois Fishes help you avoid making that embarrassing misidentification the next time you’re out on the lake? Yes. In fact, that’s one reason we published it. Note that the book concentrates on fish that venture near the surface. The Chinook’s life in the depths remains a mystery. As the Atlas notes, almost all records from the contemporary era come from fish taken in shallow waters.

An Atlas of Illinois Fishes: 150 Years of Change

Part nature guide and part natural history, An Atlas of Illinois Fishes is the authoritative resource on the topic. The 259 color photographs and 227 maps guide readers to up-to-date scientific information on Illinois’s 217 current and extirpated fish species.