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Fishes of Idaho

How are your identification skills? Do you know which are native and which were introduced? To see photos and descriptions, and learn more about Idaho fish, check out our Fishes of Idaho online database.

There are around 20,000 species of fish in the world. About 58% of these are marine (saltwater) fish, 41% are freshwater fish, and 1% are both. We have around 100 species in Idaho, and the list keeps growing as more non-native fish are released into Idaho waters. There are only 39 species of fish native to Idaho. The rest were introduced--some by accident, but most on purpose.


Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)


Sockeye are a unique species of salmon because they require a lake for the first one to two years of their lives. Payette, Stanley, Alturas and Redfish lakes in Idaho once supported strong runs of sockeye. The most sensitive anadromous species to the habitat degradation throughout the Columbia basin, sockeye were the first anadromous fish species in Idaho to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, and are currently on the brink of extinction. sockeye kokaneea.jpg (16567 bytes) Kokanee, which are still abundant in lakes throughout the state, are the landlocked form of sockeye salmon. Kokanee are much smaller than the ocean-migrating form, with fish generally spawning at 10-14 inches. They are important in Idaho as sport fish and as forage fish for large trophy fisheries such the Pend Oreille Lake rainbows and Coeur d'Alene Lake chinook.

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