CHINOOK (KING) SALMON
- Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
- Found in Illinois: Lake Michigan
- State Average: 10-12lbs
- State Record: 37lbs (1976)
- Best Lures:
- Best Lakes (based on average size): Lake Michigan
Big Chinook Salmon are a cold water species, so look for them in temperatures below 45 degrees. Downriggers are a popular method to troll in deeper waters.
Illinois anglers can expect to catch salmon from shore, off piers, and out in the lake by trolling with a boat. Charter boat service from Chicago may be available. Boat fishermen are cautioned to use adequate sized boats and motors when fishing as Lake Michigan can be very dangerous. Strict compliance with the Illinois Boating Act is essential. Important items to have aboard a boat include life preservers, fire extinguishers, portable marine band radio, a compass, and an auxillary or extra outboard motor. Daily weather reports and storm warning information is a prerequisite to fishing by boat.
Salmon have a tendency to deteriorate fast after they are caught. Therefore, the angler should immediately remove the gills and internal organs. The quality of the flesh will also be improved by placing the cleaned fish on ice.
Habitat: Habitat: Freshwater salmon were introduced into the Great Lake system as early as the late 1800s. The main types are Chinook, Coho, Pinks, Kokanee (Sockeye), and two strains of Atlantic salmon.
Feeding and Habits: In Lake Michigan, the adult chinook diet is dominated by small alewife.
Reproduction: Chinook (Kings) start making their way up rivers during late August and early September. By early October, most Chinook have turned very dark and the run is almost at its end. This is similar to the spawning habits of Chinook on many parts of the west coast of North America.