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Marine sport fish identification key - Salmonids

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Key to salmonids

1.a. Lower jaw and interior of mouth all white, tail covered with spots - go to 2

1.b. Lower jaw and/or interior of mouth shows some dark coloration, tail may or may not have spotting - go to 3

2.a. No teeth on tongue - Steelhead / Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (114 cm / 45 in) - unusual species

2.b. Teeth present on tongue - Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) (76 cm / 30 in) - unusual species

3.a. Lower jaw and gums uniform in color or mottled. Usually dark gray to black in color - go to 4

3.b. Lower jaw and gums exhibit "banding" pattern with inside and outside jaw one color and gums separate color - go to 5

4.a. Teeth sharp and firmly set in jaw. Irregular spots on back and round spots may or may not be present in tail - Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) (147 cm / 58 in) - primary species

4.b. Teeth dull and weakly set in jaw. Oval spots throughout tail - Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) (76 cm / 30 in) - common species in odd numbered years, unusual species in even numbered years

5.a. Lower jaw color light with gums (base of teeth) dark. No spots anywhere on body or fins - Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) (102 cm / 40 in) - unusual species

5.b. Lower jaw color dark with gums (base of teeth) light. Some round spots may be visible on body or in tail. Teeth sharp and firmly set in jaw Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) - (98 cm / 38.5 in) - primary species

5.c. Lower jaw color dark with gums (base of teeth) light. No spots on body or tail on body or in tail. Teeth tiny and weak - Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) (84 cm /33 in) - rare species.

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Eric Schindler
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
2040 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, Oregon 97365
(541) 867-4741


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06/23/2023 7:31 AM