Atlantic Salmon- (Salmo salar)
Identification tips for trouts and salmons
Length: 26 inches
Weight: 4 pounds
Coloring: brown, green or blue on top; silvery on sides, and silvery
Common Names: Kennebec salmon, sebago, sebago salmon, grilse, kelt
Found in Lakes: Stocked in Ontario
The Atlantic salmon has been honored throughout history. The Gauls and
Romans prized its many qualities, and Britain's Magna Carta even granted
it rights of protection.
Despite its venerable past, this valuable sport and commercial fish has
not readily adapted to the upper Great Lakes, though they were once native
to Lake Ontario. After more than 100 years of trying, Canada and the U.S.
have yet to establish these ocean-going salmon in the fresh waters of
any of the Great Lakes.
In recent years, Michigan has planted a new freshwater strain of Atlantic
salmon in Lakes Michigan and Huron. These "Gullspang" Atlantic
salmon come from the freshwater lakes of Sweden, where they have been
landlocked since the Ice Ages. Michigan and Wisconsin have at times experimented
with a strain of Atlantic salmon that spawns in the rivers of Quebec province,
and Minnesota continues to stock this species.
From these stocking programs, Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes
now have small populations of Atlantic salmon. However, the success in
reintroducing the fish has not been noteworthy, and Michigan is the only
state that continues to stock it.
Though most Atlantic salmon spawn in fresh water and then spend most
of their life in the ocean, some also lived their entire lives in Lake
Ontario up until the 1900s. For over 100 years, Canada and the United
States tried to establish self-sustaining populations of Atlantic salmon
in the upper Great Lakes, but with only minimal success.
After the parasitic sea lamprey was brought under control, Michigan planted
a new freshwater strain of Atlantic salmon in Lakes Michigan and Superior.
These "Gullspang" Atlantic salmon came from Sweden, where they
have been landlocked since the Ice Ages. For a few years in the 1970s,
Michigan and Wisconsin also planted a strain of oceangoing Atlantic salmon
in Lake Superior from stocks that spawned in the rivers of the province
of Quebec. In the 1980s, Minnesota alone continued to plant Atlantic salmon
in the headwater Great Lake, while Michigan today plants these fish only
in Lake Michigan.
Though Atlantic salmon may spawn two or three times during their lives,
self-propagating stocks have not yet developed. But fisheries scientists
still hope that some experimental strain of Atlantic salmon will be found
that has the genetic makeup to survive and reproduce in the Great Lakes.
copyright 2001 University
of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute