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Old 11-07-2011, 03:46 PM   #1
FishFearMe2
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Default How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

This is one way to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho. Usually you can tell the difference before you have them in the boat by the way they fight.

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Old 11-08-2011, 06:48 AM   #2
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

I prefer to open them up and count pyloric caeca myself that's a sure fire way to tell them apart. If it's under 100 it's a coho. It just gets a little tricky on the release.

But in seriousness, the color of the mouth as a whole can be misleading. The proper question to ask is what's the color of the tissue where the teeth erupt from the jaw? If it's black it's a chinook, white coho.

Spotting is more of a generalization. I've seen coho with some spots on the bottom half of the tail.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Im glad to see these threads because where I spend most of my river time, there is only seasons on chinook and steelhead. But lately I have seen and heard of quite a few silvers being caught, and I have bonked one that was questionable. We are allowed to keep silvers wild or hatch, but its still good to know what your looking at. Thanks, Drifter.
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Coho fight like they're in a washing machine, twist, twist, twist.
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

I can tell the differences visually but also ...chinook have a pretty distinctive strong smell. They stink...coho not so much.
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Old 11-10-2011, 08:14 PM   #6
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Shape of the spots on the back.
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Lots of subtle variations on size shape and location of spots.

The definitive criterion that will be used to enforce the identity of the fish is the gumline. Nothing else counts.

Look a the color of the gumline.... as the poster above said, particularly the tissue where the teeth erupt.

If it's light (light grey or white).... it will be enforced as coho.

If it's dark (graphite or black).... it will be enfoced as chinook.

The other most striking feature on the lower jaw of a coho is the distinct alternating dark/light/dark banding along the edge of the mouth. It is unmistakable.

Lower jaw of coho salmon. Note the distinct banding pattern of dark to light to dark.</SPAN>


Diagram and two photos showing coloration of lower jaw of chinook salmon.
Note that the coloration at the base of the teeth is consistent with the area inside and outside i.e. no distinct banding coloration although colors can vary substantially.</SPAN>
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:33 AM   #8
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Black mouth = King
White = Steelhead
Black mouth and white gums = Coho

These are all Coho. The bigger pic put up quite a thread a few years back.





I think this is from Cali.



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Old 11-11-2011, 06:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

another quick method:

grab a nook by the tail and it stays wide, flat and rigid....

grab a coho by the tail and it will fold and colapse like a wet wash rag....

Nice vid
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Follow your nose...
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:59 AM   #11
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramstrong View Post
I prefer to open them up and count pyloric caeca myself that's a sure fire way to tell them apart. If it's under 100 it's a coho. It just gets a little tricky on the release.

But in seriousness, the color of the mouth as a whole can be misleading. The proper question to ask is what's the color of the tissue where the teeth erupt from the jaw? If it's black it's a chinook, white coho.

Spotting is more of a generalization. I've seen coho with some spots on the bottom half of the tail.
Now if you know the purpose of the pyloric caeca, I'll be VERY impressed.

While the color of the mouth may seem missleading..........IT'S PRIMARY, as Doc shows below. I've had this debate on the water with other anglers and sorry, but the gumline RULES. All the other sure fire ways of determining species are the truly misleading ones. There are just too many exceptions.





Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeFISH View Post
Lots of subtle variations on size shape and location of spots.

The definitive criterion that will be used to enforce the identity of the fish is the gumline. Nothing else counts.

Look a the color of the gumline.... as the poster above said, particularly the tissue where the teeth erupt.

If it's light (light grey or white).... it will be enforced as coho.

If it's dark (graphite or black).... it will be enfoced as chinook.

The other most striking feature on the lower jaw of a coho is the distinct alternating dark/light/dark banding along the edge of the mouth. It is unmistakable.

Lower jaw of coho salmon. Note the distinct banding pattern of dark to light to dark.</SPAN>


Diagram and two photos showing coloration of lower jaw of chinook salmon.
Note that the coloration at the base of the teeth is consistent with the area inside and outside i.e. no distinct banding coloration although colors can vary substantially.</SPAN>




yep.........
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:19 AM   #12
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Hey Doc-
That is a great explanation. Thanks for schooling me again! Never new about the banding. I'm gonna start callin you teach. instead of doc!
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Old 11-11-2011, 12:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Yea for the "banding" on a Coho, I was always told that it looks like an Oreo cookie in it's mouth, Black white black. There is some overlap though. You can have Chinook with some white and some Coho with alot of black.

Classic Coho and Chinook are easy to I.D. It's the ones with this overlap that are hard. When it really comes down to the nitty gritty it's what color is at the base of their teeth, not between the teeth. If it has too much of the wrong color, trust your instinct and just toss him back.
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Old 11-11-2011, 01:37 PM   #14
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Quote:
Originally Posted by FishingTheWest View Post
Coho fight like they're in a washing machine, twist, twist, twist.
that aint no joke, they also jump acrobatically, where as chinook might splash but would rather stay near the bottom. at least in tidewater.
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:33 AM   #15
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

I have noticed the mouth color on freshly caught silvers in the Columbia is dark initially but turns white after a while. A large coho with a dark mouth is difficult to distinguish from a chinook. I recently caught an 18# Coho that because of its size made me initially think chinook. The mouth was sort of dark but the fish had few and very small spots. It also took a spinner fairly near the surface and faught like a silver. After a discussion with nearby fishermen, I concluded it was a Coho. A half hour later the mouth turned white. I was relieved that my conclusion that it was a Coho was confirmed.
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:43 AM   #16
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fshklr View Post
another quick method:

grab a nook by the tail and it stays wide, flat and rigid....

grab a coho by the tail and it will fold and colapse like a wet wash rag....

Nice vid

Interesting!
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Old 09-13-2013, 06:33 PM   #17
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Quote:
Originally Posted by elkaddict View Post
that aint no joke, they also jump acrobatically, where as chinook might splash but would rather stay near the bottom. at least in tidewater.
Might be true for some fisheries like the Columbia but not all. Some while back I was "forced" to change my activity on the Rogue after watching a couple of dozen 40# chinook jumping in front of me. I watched several fishermen land fish and was able to actually weigh them and the smallest was 38# largest 45#. Many limits (2 nate or hatch) caught in front of me.
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:08 PM   #18
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Oh the questions hurt my head....but....
Is this photo in the ODFW Regs that they say is a Coho actually a Steelhead?
I ask because of the white / grey tongue.

They second photo is a Cali fish ID posting which makes it a little more confusing.
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File Type: jpg ODFW Coho.jpg (30.9 KB, 662 views)
File Type: jpg Cali salmon ID.jpg (131.0 KB, 653 views)
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:42 PM   #19
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Photo on the lower left is 100% coho.

Steelhead have an entirely WHITE mouth, no banding.
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:43 PM   #20
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

There are several differences but the surefire way for me to tell is to look at the tail...if there are spots on the lower half of the tail, it is Chinook. No spots on lower half of tail, Coho. Also, for me, I will look at the back of the fish as it is coming in...green, Coho, black or brown, Chinook. See if you can pick out the Chinooks in this photo...
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:51 PM   #21
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Top to bottom

co
co
ch
ch
ch
co
co
ch
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:59 PM   #22
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeFISH View Post
Top to bottom

co
co
ch
ch
ch
co
co
ch
You are correct, sir! (in my best Ed McMahon voice...)
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:29 PM   #23
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Like stated before for a chinook, gum color black, rigid tail, spots on tail, and chinook don't lose scales like a silver does.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:19 AM   #24
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

The scales give it away for me. Coho seem to lose scales easy. Much easier as they progress up through fresh water it seems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyeFISH View Post
Top to bottom

co
co
ch
ch
ch
co
co
ch
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Old 10-03-2013, 11:36 AM   #25
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Here's another good set of pics...
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Old 10-03-2013, 01:14 PM   #26
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Default Re: How to tell the difference between Chinook and Coho Salmon

Quote:
Originally Posted by jvino View Post
The scales give it away for me. Coho seem to lose scales easy. Much easier as they progress up through fresh water it seems.

I agree that's the first thing I look for.
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