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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.


Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)


lso known as "kings" Chinook salmon are the largest members of the Pacific salmon family. Their size is related mainly to their later age-at-maturity. Whereas coho and sockeye salmon generally spend 11/2 years in the ocean, chinook spend 2-4 years. chinook2a.jpg (15082 bytes) There are three sub-groups of Chinook salmon in Idaho--spring, summer, and fall Chinook--named for the period when they begin their homeward migration. Spring salmon migrate the furthest distance inland to spawn in tributaries to the Snake, Salmon, and Clearwater Rivers. Summer Chinook historically spawned in the upper mainstem of Idaho's large rivers. The majority of summer Chinook habitat has been destroyed or left inaccessible by the middle Snake River dams. Fall Chinook spawn in the lower and middle reaches of the Snake River. All stocks of anadromous Chinook salmon in Idaho are now protected under the Endangered Species Act. A healthy landlocked population has been introduced into Coeur d'Alene Lake, where it has created a popular sport fishery and also holds the Idaho state record for landlocked Chinook Salmon at 42 pounds.

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