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Fly Fishing Great Lakes Salmon
by Alan Snider
The Chinook salmon, which is the largest and most popular of the Great Lakes
species were introduced into the system in the 1870’s. Coho, Sockeye, and Pink
salmon as well as two different strains of Atlantic salmon were also introduced into the
system in the years following.
Chinook which is also called the King salmon is the largest and does very well living
its entire life in fresh water. They do not mature as fast as those found in the Pacific
due to availability of food. Despite this, they are a hard fighting fish but rarely jump.
They can be fished very well by using 9-10 weight gear. They generally run in the
tributaries of the Great Lakes in August and September, but by the middle to late
October the run has ended.
Sockeye salmon are also called Red salmon unless they are landlocked and then
they are called Kohanee. They are usually about 16 inches long and weigh 2-3
pounds. They are normally a silver color with blue-green backs.they tend to run in
schools and can be fished with 7-8 weight gear.
Coho salmon are generally caught by anglers trolling the Great Lakes system.
They live for 2-4 years and can get up to 12 pounds but are usually around 6
pounds. They enter the rivers and streams in October to spawn and live there for
over a year before heading into the Great Lakes. They prefer small streams and are
jumpers which makes them many anglers favorite salmon. They can be fished with 8-
9 weight gear.
The Pink salmon which is also called the Humpback was first introduced into Lake
Superior where they reproduced and spread to all the Great Lakes. The one in Lakes
Ontario and Erie declined after a couple of years while the ones in Lakes Huron and
Superior just leveled off. They can be fished with a 6-7 weight rig.
Perfect Fly offer the rods, reels, fly line, backing, and a wide selection of flies to
make your salmon fishing trip a success. We also offer hand tied leaders for salmon.
Please visit our online store at www.perfectflyco.com or call us at 1-800-594-4726 for
advice or assistance in putting your gear together.