What it looks like

  • deep-bodied but thin from side to side
  • blue or green back
  • silvery sides
  • white belly
  • tail spotted on upper lobe only
  • dark mouth, light grey gums
  • leading ray on anal fin extends ½ - ⅔ the length of the fin
  • short, narrow caudal peduncle (where body and tail join)
  • smaller than Chinook salmon

Size

  • length: 30-75 centimetres (12-30 inches)
  • weight: 2.25-4.5 kilograms (5-10 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 13 kilograms (28.6 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it is found

Range of the Coho Salmon in Ontario

Range

  • native to the North Pacific Ocean
  • introduced to the Great Lakes
  • 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

Habitat

  • juveniles and spawning adults prefer small streams
  • 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

  • very popular, feisty sporting fish
  • usually caught near the surface and leap repeatedly, changing direction quickly
  • smaller than Chinook salmon
  • aggressive and likely to bite a wider range of baits and lures
  • 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
  • down rigging 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

Photos/images

Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)

Updated: May 13, 2021
Published: July 18, 2014