Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • elongated, moderately deep-bodied fish
  • blue or green back
  • silvery sides
  • white belly
  • spotted tail
  • black mouth and gums
  • leading ray on anal fin extends ⅓ the length of the fin
  • short, narrow caudal peduncle (where body and tail join)


  • length: 30-100 centimetres (12-39 inches)
  • weight: 3.1-6.8 kilograms (7-15 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 21 kilograms (46.4 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it is found

Range of the chinook salmon in Ontario

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)


  • spend most of the year in the cold waters of the Great Lakes
  • return to tributary streams to spawn
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • gather at the mouth of rivers in the late summer and early fall before migrating upstream to spawn

Find a fishing spot with Fish ON-Line

Angling tips

  • strong fighter, popular with anglers for its size
  • extremely light-sensitive, so unlikely to feed on the surface
  • usually stop feeding once they move upstream in fall, but are aggressive and territorial and will hit lures in defense — try rattle baits, spinners and plugs
  • downrigging and trolling work best when fishing in the Great Lakes
  • troll deep with plugs, spoons and live or dead bait
  • still-fish in moderately deep water using live, salted or fresh-cut herring

Common baits

  • plugs, spoons
  • trolling flies
  • live or dead bait