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Salmon trout family species, their habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.

Salmonidae is a family of ray-finned fish, that includes salmon, trout, chars, freshwater whitefishes and graylings. The salmon/trout family, containing 11 genera and about 66 species of fish, distributed all over the world, in freshwater and saltwater environments. Some species are variously termed salmon, trout, char, and cisco, all important food fish. Although the smallest species is just 5.1 in (13 cm) long as an adult, most are much larger, and the largest can reach 6.6 ft (2 m).
    The Salmonidae include "true" trouts such as rainbow, cutthroat, Gila, Apache, and golden. Other fish that we also call trouts are not really, but are "chars": lake and brook trouts, and Dolly Vardens. Whitefish, ciscos, and graylings are also salmonids.
    "Salmon" include chinook (king), coho (silver), chum (dog), pink, sockeye, kokanee, and Atlantic salmon. "True" trouts and Pacific salmon have latin names that begin with the genus name Oncorhynchus, while some other trouts and salmons have the genus name Salmo (brown trout and Atlantic salmon), Salvelinus (the chars), and Coregonus (whitefish and ciscos).

Salmon Family Species diagram The species of this family all have two most important defining characteristics: the small adipose fin (a small, fatty fin between the dorsal fin and the tail), and a visible lateral line down each side of the fish. They are slender fish, with rounded scales and a forked tail. Their mouths contain a single row of sharp teeth.
    They are all predators that eat other fish, and they all have a way of swimming that is called, sub-carangiform; that is, they slowly wave most of the body in order to swim forward, with the head waving a little less than the posterior part of the body. Many of them are anadromous, means they migrate up streams and rivers to spawn and return downstream to a lake or ocean when they mature. Fishes that do this are include sturgeon, lampreys, shad, and herring. (Eels are catadromous: they live in freshwater and migrate to the ocean to breed).
    Members of the Salmonidae family share some characteristics: They all have small scales, a lateral line, and an adipose fin. These features can be used to distinguish them from the other fish families that are found in this country. The length of the base of the anal fin (the place where it joins the body) is used to tell some of the salmonid species apart; look under anal fin in the glossary for a full explanation of how to determine if the anal fin is short or long based. Trout Family Species diagram
Some trouts, like rainbow trout, may go to the sea. Then they are called "steelhead," although they are still the same species, Oncorhynchus mykiss. Other trouts can be found in the ocean as well. Dolly Varden and "sea-run cutthroat" are examples. Often, the main factor in whether trouts migrate to sea seems to be whether the coast is near enough to their home streams. Rainbow trout may be considered land-locked steelhead (they never leave freshwater). Most salmon go to sea. Kokanee, however, are land-locked sockeye salmon. Adult kokanee are smaller than Sockeye, and they spend their adult lives in lakes instead of the ocean.
    Salmonids that live in streams, such as trout, some chars, and very young salmon, tend to be smaller in size than their ocean-faring cousins, and having smaller mouths they eat smaller food. They begin small, with microscopic cladocerans and copepods, and build up as they grow to aquatic invertebrates like flies, worms, and fly nymphs. Eventually, they will be come so large that they are capable of eating other fish, including younger versions of themselves! Some eat large amounts of shrimp-like copepods that have carotenoid (orange) pigments. These orange pigments will be transferred to their flesh. That is why some salmonids have such bright orange meat, including rainbows, Pacific salmon, and Atlantic salmon. Sockeye salmon also have an orange tint to their flesh. When sockeye begin their run upriver to spawn, the orange tint migrates to their skin, making them bright red and their flesh then turns white. Chum salmon eat mostly jellyfish, and their flesh is lighter colored--because jellyfish have no carotenoid pigments.
Salmon Family Life Cycle     Salmon life-cycle starts in streams, then migrate to the ocean to grow big and fat, and return to the same stream to spawn (to reproduce) and then die. Their deteriorating flesh then provides the nutrients that nourish their young when they hatch. There are exceptions, of course. Kokanee go to lakes instead of the sea. Chum and pink hardly spend any time at all in their streams, while chinook and coho spend one or two years in them.

    When adult salmon are out at sea, they are a bright, silvery color. When they return to their streams at the end of their lives to spawn, they stop eating and change into brightly colored fish, flashing red and often green. Spawning salmon, especially the males, change shape as well, developing large, vicious looking teeth, curved jaws, and humped backs. Most of the time they manage to find the very same stream they were spawned in so long ago. Through chemical cues and the sense of smell, they can home in on their birth streams when returning to spawn. Once there, they make nests in gravel nests (redds), deposit their eggs, fertilize them, and cover them back up. These salmon are now finished with their lives, and die.
    Underneath the gravel, the large eggs receive oxygen from the water that runs between the rocks. When they hatch, the small fish, with yolks still attached to their bellies, are called alevin. The photo on the left shows two alevin and an egg. When the yolk sacs are gone, they will have to begin eating, so they leave the gravel as fry, shown in the middle photo. The young salmon will spend most of the rest of their time in the stream as parr, in the photo on the right. Salmon parr look almost alike, and species are hard to tell apart. Most of them are small, silvery, and have dark, vertical blotches down their sides.
    When it is time for the young salmon to go to sea, they will smoltify. That is, they will turn into smolts and become the silvery color that they will have in the ocean. They also change their body chemistry so that they can withstand exposure to saltwater. They swim, taking the long, perilous journey downstream to the ocean. Smolts must avoid birds like eagles, osprey, and kingfishers, and large fish, like squawfish and trout. They may find themselves trapped for too long in the high temperatures of a reservoir behind a dam, or suffer injury and death while trying to get through a dam. When they finally reach the estuary the place where river and ocean meet and their waters mingle they will spend some time there, getting used to the saltwater, new food, and new predators. When they are ready, they will begin their sea voyage. Each run of salmon has its own destination, and some will go farther and range wider than others. All, however, will come home again.

    Trout are usually found in cool (50-60F, 10-15C), clear streams and lakes, although many of the species have anadromous strains as well. Young trout are referred to as troutlet or troutling. They are distributed naturally throughout North America, northern Asia and Europe. Several species of trout were introduced to Australia and New Zealand by amateur fishing enthusiasts in the 19th century, effectively displacing and endangering several upland native fish species. The introduced species included brown trout from England and rainbow trout from California. The rainbow trout were a steelhead strain, generally accepted as coming from Sonoma Creek. The rainbow trout of New Zealand still show the steelhead tendency to run up rivers in winter to spawn.
    Trout may also run to the ocean, or a large lake, when they have access. Trout and salmon spawn either in spring or fall, according to the species, over gravelly shoals, usually in small streams. The female digs a shallow dish nest in the gravel by lying on her side against the bottom and swimming forward energetically. Her body and fins flush out the stones. One or several males join her in the actual spawning. Trout Family Life Cycle
Afterward, the adults abandon the nest, called a redd. The eggs fall into the spaces between the gravel. They may be covered slightly with more gravel by the female before she leaves. Eggs hatch in four to 10 weeks, depending on water temperature. Silt, clogging the spaces between the stones, can reduce hatching success. Young trout stay in the gravel until the yolk sac is absorbed. Then they move out into the stream. The presence of reproducing populations of trout has been used as an indicator of high-quality, well-oxygenated, unpolluted water.
    Trout and salmon are not school fish. Stream trout eat mostly adult and immature aquatic insects. They also eat terrestrial insects that fall onto the water, crayfish and other freshwater crustaceans. They also eat fish, especially as they grow larger. Trout feed most readily when water temperatures are in the 50s and 60s. They also feed in the winter and are popular with ice anglers.
    Salmon generally show up in the same order every year, and the best fishing for each species follows a definite pattern: Kings first at the end of May and through June. Reds in the latter half of June, and then again in the last half of July and first half of August. Chums in the second half of July and first half of August. Pinks in the second half of July through the majority of August. And then silvers, which are at their best for most of August. There are many kinds of salmon and few of them are more power full and energetic than others. And catching for these types of salmon can be a great challenge and dare for the salmon anglers.

Brook Trout

    Brook Trout, also known as speckled trout, is found only in cold water streams of the mountains. Often a brilliantly colored fish, it is readily identifiable by the white leading edge, backed by black, on its lower fins. The Brook trout is easy to catch and when a stream is made easily accessible by new roads, or other development, their numbers can be reduced by fishing, or eliminated by accompanying habitat changes. The typical Brook trout caught today is 8 inches or less in length. A 12-inch or longer fish is a rarity. Because of their small size and tendency to be found in small, overgrown streams, brook trout seldom get to put up much of a fight when hooked.

Rainbow Trout

    Rainbow Trout are distinguished by the presence of a pinkish to red longitudinal band, varying numbers of black spots, and a frequently pink or red gill cover. The typical rainbow trout taken from the water is 10 inches or less in length. Fish up to 12-inches long are common, and occasionally larger specimens are taken. Rainbow trout do best in clear, cool, cascading type streams, but can survive in waters too warm or too silt laden for Brook trout. In streams where both Rainbow and Brook trout occur, Rainbow usually dominate. Rainbow trout are known as spectacular fighters, and frequently jump from the water when hooked.

Brown Trout

    Brown Trout can be distinguished by their brownish-yellow color and the scattered black, red, and orange spots on their sides. The typical brown trout taken from the water is 12 inches or less in length, but often fish can be greater than 18-inches long. Brown trout are extremely wary and are the most difficult of the trout to catch. Once they become established in a stream, it is almost impossible to catch them out, even with heavy fishing pressure. Brown trout prefer larger, slower flowing streams with an abundance of minnows. However, they also do well in some of the smaller, swifter streams too. Brown trout are stubborn fighters when hooked, but do not put on as spectacular an acrobatic show as the Rainbow. Instead, they tend to go to the bottom and run underneath a log or into a rock crevice.

Chinook Salmon

    Chinook Salmon, also known as Kings Salmon, the largest of the species, live up to 7 years and grow up to 125 lbs. Average size: between 3 to 65 lbs (1.5 and 30 kg). They spawn most often in large rivers or streams and in deep, fast water. Flesh color may vary from white to pink to red. Chinook are highly prized by trophy fishers.

Coho Salmon

    Coho Salmon, also known as Silvers, usually spend 1 to 2 years in freshwater before migrating to sea. They require small headwater streams for pre-migration period. Coho are bright silver in colour and notorious for a wild, fast, and erratic fight. Average size: between 2 to 30 lbs (1 and 14 kg)

Chum Salmon

    Chum Salmon, also known as Keta, or as Dogs for their canine-like teeth. Geographic range extends from California to Korea. Chum are similar in appearance to sockeye but longer and are noted for long, nearly unstoppable runs and bulldogging tactics. Average size: between 12 to 24 lbs (5.5 and 11 kg). Their flesh color may vary from white to pink to red, drier flesh well-suited for smoking. They spawn low in river systems, migrate to sea soon after hatching.

Pink Salmon

    Pink Salmon, also known as Humpies, are the most abundant and smallest of the salmon. Pinks salmon have a reputation for being spirited fighters, making them popular with fly fishers. Average size: between 3 to 7 lbs (1.5 to 3 kg), seldom reaching 11 lbs (5 kg). Often spawn in estuaries or lower reaches of rivers, migrate to sea soon after hatching. Two-year life cycle with alternate even and odd year runs. They have lowest fat content of the species.

Sockeye Salmon

    Sockeye Salmon, also known as Reds, the darkest flesh of the species. They are strong determined fighters on light tackle and are excellent for eating. Average size: between 5 to 7 lbs (2.2 to 3 kg), seldom reaching 14 lbs (6.3 kg). Species spawn not only in rivers but also in lakes. They often spend 1 to 3 years in freshwater before migrating to sea. Some populations have become land-locked, and are known as kokanee salmon.

Steelhead Salmon

    Steelhead Salmon, also known as Rainbow Salmon, live as much as four years in freshwater before migrating to sea. They may mature without ever leaving fresh water, in which case they are called rainbow trout. One of species who often do not die after spawning, but will re-migrate to the ocean. This fish are highly prized by anglers for their fighting spirit.
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