Preserving the History of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle, Washington

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Silver Time!

Coho salmon are commonly called silvers because of their shiny appearance. The coho run usually starts in mid-August and will peak around the second week of September, it is the last of the 3 salmon species to use the Lake Washington Ship Canal fish ladder.

Adult coho average 6 to 12 pounds and are identified by the fine spots on their back and upper tail lobe. If you have difficulty telling a coho from a Chinook, look at their mouth--the coho will have pale color flesh along their gum line while the Chinook will have dark color flesh at the base of their teeth (hence, young Chinook are sometimes called ‘blackmouths.’)

Coho return to spawn in their natal stream when they are about 3 years old, like all salmon species, the males develop the very distinctive hooked upper jaw (called a kype) and teeth in order to fight for dominance in the spawning beds. Some of the coho run will be returning to the hatchery in Issaquah, others will spawn in the local creeks where they were hatched.

Coho are found along the Pacific coast from San Francisco to Alaska.