• Family: Salmonidae (Trout, Salmon, Char, and Whitefish)
• Other Names: Humpback salmon
• Ohio Status: Introduced
• Adult Size: Typically 10-15 inches, can reach 24 inches in fresh water. Usually weigh 1-2 pounds, can reach 5 pounds in fresh water. In their natural range on the west coast ocean going fish can reach 30 inches and over 15 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Small fish such as alewife, cisco, and rainbow smelt.
Pink salmon are a silver fish with larger black spots on their back and entire tail than other species of salmon. Like all members of the Salmonidae family they have an adipose fin. Pink salmon have black gums and a white mouth. Spawning fish in the Great Lakes turn a dark green on the back with pink or red sides. Mature males develop a hooked upper jaw called a kype and have a very large hump back on their back.
Habitat and Habits
In their natural range on the west coast of North America salmon are anadromous (spawn in freshwater and live adult lives in the Ocean). Pink salmon were first stocked in Lake Superior in 1956. From this initial stocking they have spread throughout the Great Lakes and are the only naturally producing self maintaining salmon population in the Great Lakes. They were first found in Lake Erie in 1979 and small spawning runs occur in the lower couple miles of some tributaries on the eastern end of Lake Erie. No salmon are stocked any longer in Lake Erie.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Pink salmon travel long distances up rivers from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in their natural range. After spawning they die. In the Great Lakes the introduced populations spawn between mid September and October and the young return to the lakes almost immediately after hatching and becoming free swimming.