The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
(Chinook Salmon)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum in Artedi, 1792)

Common name: Chinook Salmon

Synonyms and Other Names: king salmon

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Chinook salmon is characterized by small dark spots on the head, back, and caudal fin, black gums on the lower haw, and a fusiform, streamlined, and laterally compressed body. Sea run fish are dark green to blue-black on their heads and back and silvery to white on the sides and belly. Chinook salmon changes to an olive-brown, red, or purplish color during spawning. See also Moyle (1976a); Scott and Crossman (1973); Wydoski and Whitney (1979); Morrow (1980); Eschmeyer et al. (1983); Page and Burr (1991).

Size: up to 147 cm

Native Range: Arctic and Pacific drainages from Point Hope, Alaska, to Ventura River, California. Occasionally strays south to San Diego, California. Also in northeastern Asia (Page and Burr 1991).

Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Oncorhynchus tshawytscha are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CA200020005Middle Fork Feather; North Fork American; North Fork Feather; Suisun Bay; Upper Mokelumne
CT199619961New England Region
DE187218722Delaware Bay; Nanticoke
HI187619272Hawaii; Kauai
ID1967201333Big Wood; Boise-Mores; C.J. Strike Reservoir; Camas; Clearwater; Coeur d'Alene Lake; Goose; Lemhi; Little Salmon; Little Wood; Lochsa; Lower Boise; Lower Kootenai; Lower North Fork Clearwater; Lower Salmon; Middle Salmon-Chamberlain; Middle Salmon-Panther; North Fork Payette; Payette; Pend Oreille Lake; Portneuf; Priest; Salmon Falls; South Fork Boise; South Fork Clearwater; South Fork Payette; Spokane; Upper Coeur d'Alene; Upper Middle Fork Salmon; Upper Salmon; Upper Spokane; Weiser; Willow
IL196720214Chicago; Lake Michigan; Little Calumet-Galien; Lower Illinois-Senachwine Lake
IN196820123Lake Michigan; Little Calumet-Galien; St. Joseph
LA187618762Tangipahoa; Tickfaw
ME189919507Lower Kennebec River; Maine Coastal; New England Region; Piscataqua-Salmon Falls; Presumpscot; St. George-Sheepscot; Upper Kennebec River
MD187418749Chincoteague; Conococheague-Opequon; Gunpowder-Patapsco; Lower Susquehanna; Mid Atlantic Region; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Monocacy; North Branch Potomac; Patuxent
MA187719936Blackstone River; Charles; Merrimack River; Nashua River; New England Region; Winnipesaukee River
MI1870201324Au Gres-Rifle; Betsie-Platte; Betsy-Chocolay; Black-Presque Isle; Boardman-Charlevoix; Fishdam-Sturgeon; Huron; Kalamazoo; Lake Erie; Lake Huron; Lake Michigan; Lake St. Clair; Lake Superior; Lone Lake-Ocqueoc; Lower Grand; Manistee; Muskegon; Ontonagon; Pere Marquette-White; Pigeon-Wiscoggin; Shiawassee; St. Clair; St. Joseph; Upper Grand
MN1876200615Baptism-Brule; Beaver-Lester; Blue Earth; Cannon; Crow; Elk-Nokasippi; Lake Superior; Lower St. Croix; Minnesota; Rock; Twin Cities; Upper Mississippi; Upper Mississippi-Black-Root; Upper Mississippi-Crow-Rum; Upper Red
MT197120104Bullwhacker-Dog; Fort Peck Reservoir; Missouri-Poplar; Prairie Elk-Wolf
NE197419855Big Papillion-Mosquito; Lewis and Clark Lake; Lower North Platte; Salt; Upper Big Blue
NV187820012Carson Desert; Lake Tahoe
NH187519856Black River-Connecticut River; Headwaters Connecticut River; New England; Pemigewasset River; Piscataqua-Salmon Falls; Saco River
NJ187419524Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Mid-Atlantic Region; Mullica-Toms; Raritan
NY187320167Black; Irondequoit-Ninemile; Lake Erie; Lake Ontario; Oneida; Raisin River-St. Lawrence River; Salmon-Sandy
ND198619942Lake Sakakawea; Painted Woods-Square Butte
OH1875200310Cedar-Portage; Huron-Vermilion; Lake Erie; Lower Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Lower Maumee; Muskingum; Sandusky; Tuscarawas; Upper Scioto; Walhonding
OR198219821Brownlee Reservoir
PA189219834Lake Erie; Middle Delaware-Musconetcong; Susquehanna; Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna
SD198120013Fort Randall Reservoir; Lower Lake Oahe; Missouri Region
VA187419728Lower James; Middle James-Buffalo; Middle New; North Fork Holston; Potomac; South Branch Potomac; South Fork Holston; Upper Dan
WI1876201415Beartrap-Nemadji; Door-Kewaunee; Duck-Pensaukee; Great Lakes Region; Lake Michigan; Lake Superior; Lower Fox; Manitowoc-Sheboygan; Menominee; Milwaukee; Oconto; Peshtigo; Pike-Root; St. Louis; Upper Fox

Table last updated 4/18/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

* HUCs are not listed for states where the observation(s) cannot be approximated to a HUC (e.g. state centroids or Canadian provinces).

Ecology: Chinook salmon are anadromous, migrating from streams to the ocean to grow and mature and returning to their natal streams to spawn. Fry may migrate to sea after as few as three months or as many as three years, but most stay one year instream. Instream, chinook feeds mainly on macroinvertebrates; after migrating from the stream, it feeds primarily on small forage fish. Landlocked Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes usually leaves its natal stream for the lake proper within a few months of hatching (Michigan DNR 2011).

Means of Introduction: Authorized introductions for sportfishing. Stocking began as early as 1874 in several states. Parsons (1973) give detailed accounts of stockings in the Great Lakes. The first stocking of large numbers of Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes occurred in 1967 in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior in part to control alewfie. Chinook salmon was first planted into Lake Superior in 1967 by the state of Michigan. This introduction was extended to Minnesota in 1974, Wisconsin in 1977, and Ontario in 1988. Annual plants of spring fingerlings between 1989 and 1991 averaged approximately 350,000 in Michigan, 509,000 in Minnesota, 384,000 in Wisconsin, and 300,000 in Ontario. By 1970 the species had been planted in all the Great Lakes (Parsons 1973). Between 1873 and 1933, about 11 million Chinook salmon were stocked in the Great Lakes basin (Parsons 1973). In a second attempt to establish chinook, another six million were stocked 1967-1970. Stocking numbers of Chinook salmon in Lake Ontario peaked in 1984 at 4.2 million fish and ranged from 3.2 million to 3.6 million annually from 1984 to 1992. From 1994-1996, stocking ranged from 1.5-1.7 million fish and from 1997-1999 stocking ranged from 2.0-2.2 million fish (Mills 2003). From the mid-1980s to 1992, the Michigan DNR stocked approximately 3.5 million Chinook salmon fingerlings into Lake Huron (Ebner 1995). Chinook salmon was stocked in West Virginia in 1874 (Cincotta, personal communication). Chinook salmon was also stocked in Nevada, but became extinct by 1911 (Vinyard 2001). Chinook salmon was stocked into Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota since 1976 using eggs collected from Lake Michigan fish. Beginning in 1982 it was also stocked downstream into Lake Oahe, South Dakota (Marrone 1996).

Status: Chinook salmon have been found to spawn and reproduce in the Great Lakes (Negus 1995; Peck 1999). In Lake Huron, 7 out of every 8 chinook salmon in the population come from natural reproduction (Michigan DNRE 2011). Chinook salmon is the most heavily stocked species in Lake Ontario (Kerr 1991). Chinook salmon is no longer present in Utah (Sigler and Sigler 1996).

Impact of Introduction: Competes with native lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush, in the Great Lakes (Page and Laird 1993). Chinook salmon is a predatory fish and as such may impact populations of smaller fish. Some agencies in Lakes Michigan and Ontario drastically reduced their stocking quotas in the 1990's for Chinook salmon and are concerned about their impact on the fish community, namely declining populations of alewife and other forage fish (Schriener 1995). Jones et al. (1993) predicted that maintaining high levels of predator demand by stocking chinook and other top predators at the current rate would eventually lead to an alewife collapse, possibly followed by the further collapse of other small forage fish populations. Chinook had totally eliminated rainbow smelt Osmerus mordax in two small New Hampshire lakes where the salmon was stocked to control the smelt (McAffee 1966).

Negus (1995) proposed that stocking of chinook in Lake Superior could be modified to alter predation pressure on important prey species. However, hatchery-reared chinook salmon were found to make up only 25% of the sport fish catch in Lake Superior, such predominance indicating that chinook have become naturalized and stocking efforts may only marginally effect chinook biomass in the lake (Peck 1999). Hatchery-reared Chinook in Lake Huron only contribute 1 out of every 8 fish in the population (Michigan DNRE 2011).

Scott et al. (2003) found that the presence of chinook salmon causes delayed nesting and reduced survival of Atlantic salmon during spawning in Lake Ontario. Additionally, Atlantic salmon were generally more active and males engaged in more agonistic behavior (head-down, lateral display, parallel swim) when chinook were present. Such effects could have a negative impact on present Atlantic salmon restoration efforts there.

Remarks: Chinook salmon has not been stocked in Oklahoma (Pigg, personal communication). Parsons (1973) gave detailed stocking information for the Great Lakes. During the 1970s, nearly all Chinook salmon in the Great Lakes reached sexual maturity by age 3. in the 1990s, however, 20% became sexually mature at age 4 (Ebner 1995). Lakewide average weight (kg) at age in Lake Huron is 1.8 kg at age 1, 5.2 kg at age 2, 7.2 kg at age 3, and 8.1 kg at age 4. (Ebner 1995). Wurster (2005) found that Chinook salmon in Lake Ontario occupy epilimnetic waters approaching their upper lethal limit of 22°C in the summer months, presumably because the highest prey fish biomass is found near 20°C. Rand (1998) estimated survival rates of stocked Chinook salmon in Lake Ontario to be 45% to 47%.

References: (click for full references)

Bence, J.R., and K.D. Smith. 1999. An overview of recreational fisheries of the Great Lakes. In Taylor, W.W., and C.P. Ferreri (Eds.), Great Lakes Fisheries Policy and Management: A Binational Perspective. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI. pp. 259-306.

Crawford, S.S. 2001. Salmonine introductions to the Laurentian Great Lakes: an historical review and evaluation of ecological effects. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences No. 132. 205 pp.

Crawford, H.M., D.A. Jensen, B. Peichel, P.M. Charlebois, B.A. Doll, S.H. Kay, V.A. Ramey, and M.B. O’Leary. 2001. Sea grant and invasive aquatic plants: a national outreach initiative. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management 39(1):8-11.

Cudmore-Vokey, B., and E.J. Crossman. 2000. Checklists of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes and their connecting channels. Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2500: v + 39 pp.

Ebner, M.P. [Ed.]. 1995. The State of Lake Huron in 1992. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Special Publication. 95-2. 140 pp.

Emery, L. 1985. Review of fish introduced into the Great Lakes, 1819-1974. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Technical Report 45:1-31.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2008. Survey of recreational fishing in Canada: Selected results for the Great Lakes fishery, 2005. Catalogue No. Fs23-522/2005-1E.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Available: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/stats/rec/gl/gl2005/Report-eng.pdf

Hansen, M.J. [Ed.] 1994 The State of Lake Superior in 1992. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Special Publication 94-1.

Ivan, L.N., E.S. Rutherford, and T.H. Johengen. 2011. Impacts of adfluvial fish on the ecology of two Great Lakes tributaries. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 140:1670-1682.

Jones, M.L., J.F. Koonce, and R. O'Gorman. 1993. Sustainability of hatchery-dependent salmonine fisheries in Lake Ontario: the conflict between predator demand and prey supply. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 122:1002-1018.

Kerr, S.J., and G.C. LeTendre. 1991. The State of the Lake Ontario Fish Community in 1989. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Special Publication 91-3. 38 pp.

Kocik, J.F., and M.L. Jones. 1999. Pacific salmonines in the Great Lakes basin. In Taylor, W.W. and C.P. Ferreri, (Eds.). Great Lakes Fisheries Policy and Management: A Binational Perspective. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI, pp. 455-488.

Marrone, G. 1996. Chinook salmon. South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, Division of Wildlife, Pierre, SD. http://www3.northern.edu/natsource/FISH/Chinoo1.htm (accessed 3/4/2011).

McAffee, W. R. 1966. Landlocked king salmon. Pages 294-295 in A. Calhoun, editor. Inland Fisheries Management. California Department of Fish and Game.

Mills, E.L., J.M. Casselman, R. Dermott, J.D. Fitzsimmons, G. Gal, K.T. Holeck, J.A. Hoyle, O.E. Hohannsson, B.F. Lantry, J.C. Makearewicz, E.S. Millard, I.F. Munawar, M. Munawar, R. O'Gorman, R.W. Owens, L.G. Rudstam, T. Schaner, and T.J.Stewart. 2003. Lake Ontario: food web dynamics in a changing ecosystem (1970-2000). Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 60: 471-490.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MIDNRE). 2011. Chinook salmon studies. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10364_52259_10951_11244-98592--,00.html (Accessed 3-4-2011).

Negus, M.T. 1995. Bioenergetics modeling as a salmonine management tool applied to Minnesota Waters of Lake Superior. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 15:60-78.

Page, L.M., and C.A. Laird. 1993. The identification of the nonnative fishes inhabiting Illinois waters. Report prepared by Center for Biodiversity, Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, for Illinois Department of Conservation, Springfield. Center for Biodiversity Technical Report 1993(4). 39 pp.

Parmenter, R.R., and V.A. Lamarra. 1991. Nutrient cycling in a freshwater marsh: The decomposition of fish and waterfowl carrion. Limnology and Oceanography 36(5):976-987.

Peck, J.W., T.S. Jones, W.R. MacCallum, and S.T. Schram. 1999. Contribution of hatchery-reared fish to Chinook salmon population and sport fisheries in Lake Superior. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 19:155-164.

Rand, P.S., and D.J. Stewart. 1998. Prey fish exploitation, salmonine production, and pelagic food web efficiency in Lake Ontario. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 55 (February, 1998):318-327.

Rand, P.S., C.A.S. Hall, W.H. McDowell, N.H. Ringler, and J.G. Kennen. 1992. Factors limiting primary productivity in Lake Ontario tributaries receiving salmon migrations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 49(11):2377-2385.

Schreiner, D.R. (Ed.). 1995. Fisheries management plan for the Minnesota waters of Lake Superior. Special Publication #149. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Duluth, MN, 87 pp.

Scott, R.J., D.L.G. Noakes, F.W.H. Meamish, and L.M. Carl. 2003. Chinook salmon impede Atlantic salmon conservation in Lake Ontario. Ecology of Freshwater Fish 12:66-73.

Tiegs, S.D., E.Y. Campbell, P.S. Levi, J. Rüegg, M.E. Benbow, D.T. Chaloner, R.W. Merritt, J.L. Tank, and G.A. Lamberti. 2009. Separating physical disturbance and nutrient enrichment caused by Pacific salmon in stream ecosystems. Freshwater Biology 54(9): 1864-1857.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 Fisheries Program, and Great Lakes Fishery Commission (USFWS/GLFC). 2010. Great Lakes Fish Stocking database. Available: http://www.glfc.org/fishstocking/index.htm

Vinyard, G.L. 2001. Fish Species Recorded from Nevada. Biological Resources Research Center. University of Nevada Reno. 5 pp.

Wurster, C., W. Patterson, D. Stewart, J. Bowlby, and T. Stewart. 2005. Thermal histories, stress, and metabolic rates of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in Lake Ontario: evidence from intra-otolith stable isotope analyses. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62 (March, 2005): 700-713.

Young, B.A., T.L. Welker, M.L. Wildhaber, C.R. Berry, and D. Scarnecchia, editors. 1997. Population structure and habitat use of benthic fishes along the Missouri and lower Yellowstone rivers. Annual Report of Missouri River Benthic Fish Study PD-95-5832. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 207 pp.

Other Resources:
Great Lakes Fish Stocking Database

Distribution in Illinois - Illinois Natural History Survey

Great Lakes Waterlife

Fishes of Wisconsin - Wisconsin Sea Grant

FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P., G. Jacobs, M. Cannister, J. Larson, and A. Fusaro

Revision Date: 12/20/2019

Peer Review Date: 6/26/2014

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., G. Jacobs, M. Cannister, J. Larson, and A. Fusaro, 2024, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbaum in Artedi, 1792): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=920, Revision Date: 12/20/2019, Peer Review Date: 6/26/2014, Access Date: 4/18/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/18/2024].

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