Coho Salmon

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Scientific Name:

Oncorhynchus kisutch

Species:

Pacific Salmon

Species/Subspecies/Hybrid/Variant:

Salmon Subspecies

Also known as:

silver salmon or "silvers"

The coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon family and one of the five Pacific salmon species. Coho salmon are also known as silver salmon or "silvers". During their ocean phase, coho salmon have silver sides and dark-blue backs. During their spawning phase, their jaws and teeth become hooked. After entering fresh water, they develop bright-red sides, bluish-green heads and backs, dark bellies and dark spots on their backs. Sexually maturing fish develop a light-pink or rose shading along the belly, and the males may show a slight arching of the back. Mature adults have a pronounced red skin color with darker backs and average 28 inches (71 cm) and 7 to 11 pounds (3.2 to 5.0 kg), occasionally reaching up to 36 pounds (16 kg). They also develop a large kype (hooked beak) during spawning. Mature females may be darker than males, with both showing a pronounced hook on the nose.


The eggs hatch in the late winter or early spring after six to seven weeks in the redd. Once hatched, they remain mostly immobile in the redd during the alevin life stage, which lasts for 6–7 weeks. Alevin no longer have the protective egg shell, or chorion, and rely on their yolk sacs for nourishment during growth. The alevin life stage is very sensitive to aquatic and sedimental contaminants. When the yolk sac is completely resorbed, the alevin leaves the redd. Young coho spend one to two years in their freshwater natal streams, often spending the first winter in off-channel sloughs, before transforming to the smolt stage. Smolts are generally 100–150 mm (3.9–5.9 in) and as their parr marks fade and the adult's characteristic silver scales start to dominate. Smolts migrate to the ocean from late March through July. Some fish leave fresh water in the spring, spend summer in brackish estuarine ponds, and then return to fresh water in the fall. Coho salmon live in salt water for one to three years before returning to spawn. Some precocious males, known as "jacks", return as two-year-old spawners. Spawning males develop kypes, which are strongly hooked snouts and large teeth.


The traditional range of the coho salmon runs along both sides of the North Pacific Ocean, from Hokkaidō, Japan and eastern Russia, around the Bering Sea to mainland Alaska, and south to Monterey Bay, California. Coho salmon have also been introduced in all the Great Lakes, as well as many landlocked reservoirs throughout the United States. A number of specimens, (more than 20), were caught in waters surrounding Denmark and Norway in 2017. Their source is currently unknown, but the salmon species is farmed at several locations in Europe, making it probable that the animal has slipped the net at such a farm.


In North America, coho salmon is a game fish in fresh and salt water from July to December, especially with light fishing tackle. It is one of the most popular sport fish in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada. Its popularity is due in part to the reckless abandon which it frequently displays chasing bait and lure while in salt water, and the large number of coastal streams it ascends during its spawning runs. Its habit of schooling in relatively shallow water, and often near beaches, makes it accessible to anglers on the banks, as well as in boats.


Coho Salmon - by US Fish & Wildlife Service

Coho Salmon - by Alaska Dept. of Fish & Wildlife