Steelhead or Salmon.?? ..please help w ID

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by BruceAC, Jan 15, 2010.

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  1. Let's apply a few numbers to the photos and see if that helps folks get past the Beauty Contest Dilema they have made.

    The fish in the picture is well beyond halfway to fully mature and ready to spawn. Perhaps three-quarters would be my guess on spawning and the timing would bear that out reasonably.

    The fish has a kype very much in the middle of the normal range for a female coho of said age.

    The fish has a kype at the extreme small end of the normal range for a male coho. A glance through the links provided should prove to any open-minded individual that male coho usually have far more kype by this stage of maturity and most are FAR beyond this level of kype enlargement before the first blush of red. That happens by the way, more reliably, later in the run.

    Coho hens tend to turn significantly more gray than males. This fish is significantly more gray than the average male.

    The dorsal fin differences are not clear in the picture... But there is NO hump and most males this red would express a distinct hump.

    Females start dangling a little flesh when they have started dropping eggs, but the lack of wear on the leading edge of the ventral fin and tail says there has not been any spawning for this fish yet.

    As to contentions about hard versus soft bellies I have my doubts the feelings would express themselves well in a photo. I understand the concept, but think I could tell that better with eyes closed and fish in hand.

    So by my figuring the fish is 75% developed color and age-wise; kype is average for females, significantly less than 50% for males; Hump is 100% normal for hen, significantly less than 50% for male; color is far more female than male on average; ventral fin, vent, and "softness" are no-shows to my eye. These are WAGs rather than precise numbers, but the preponderance of evidence is for female.

    There is no slam dunk, "100% this is a hen", but if you examined 100 fish of this color, kype development and form, the vast majority would be hens. If this does not explain it well enough for you to understand I suggest a case of refusing to see, rather than failure to see...
    art laughing
  2. Is that what you said about the picture of the Atlantic?
  3. I seldom make it to E'burg but my father is buried just west of town. I would let you buy me a beer next time I am through. We still have a fair piece of land in King County.

    BTW if you only knew... ;)
  4. Hap,

    Here is my rebuttal. Color is a hard characteristic to base ID on in species and gender. Take a look at the two pictures below. One shows a female that doesn't have any kype at all and is very gray in color. Although the other picture merely shows a pile of fish that have been spawned, you can get an idea of the color. Most fish don't display a large kype either. That is why most folks use meristic counts (fin rays, pyloric caeca, etc.) as making a positive ID. Generally speaking, female fish don't develop sexual dimorphism traits as much as males; kype, color change, humped body, etc. Rather than doing this, they put their energy in somatic/gonad growth and development. The buck, in order to mate with as many females as possible, are the ones that really put on their spawning colors and develop drastic body changes. The actual spawning act takes only a few days perhaps while maturing may take months. Therefore, unless the fish is actively spawning, you would not see evidence of that (i.e., tail/fin wear and may or may not see a protruded vent) but still may develop color and kype for several more weeks. I am still not convinced that the fish is a female but I am glad we have been able to keep the discussion cordial.

    I'm not sure what you meant about your Atlantic comment except that it goes back to our previous discussion. A list of websites was presented showing different coho salmon. In one, I'm pretty sure one was misidentified as a Chinook. I was merely pointing out some obvious ways to differentiate between coho and Chinook.

    Regardless of whether the fish was male or female, the important thing is the fish was released and will hopefully be able to spawn, unless it was a hatchery fish. :rofl:

  5. iagree iagree

    OMJ lighten up...

  6. WELL SAID!!!!!

  7. Give OMJ a break guys. It is because of his attitude we love him so much! but... I do have to side on his response to the OP. Dude brush up on your fish ID skills. If the question was..." What species of Salmon is this" , I might have a different opinion. As for arguing what sex this coho is, I personally say it is gonna be a rotting piece of buck pretty soon.
  8. I remain firmly convinced it is a hen and find you did not address my initial statements. If you take the time to address them in step-wise fashion I believe you would start changing your opinion. But that is just my opinion. ;)

    First, your first picture does not show the kype in any reasonable attitude for judging relative development. Without a side view it could easily be quite fully developed. I would be surprised if you could find a single spawner female with less kype than the original fish. You would get significantly more points for finding a spawner male with less. That sets the stage for your uphill run, Sisyphus. ;)

    Second, I cede color as definitive, but combined with the galaxy of dimorphisitic development it plays a strong role in indicating a strong probability of "average" for stage descriptions. The pile of fish shows how much paler they get as the carotene-colored proteins are absorbed; an "end-times" thing rather than where the original fish may have already been, if you will.

    Third, your point about the bucks "...are the ones that really put on their spawning colors and develop drastic body changes" makes my argument for me. Drastic body changes, especially the hump, are often found on chromer cohos. Here is a very colored coho, humpless. As an element of the galaxy of evidence, it strongly indicates "Not male" without being definitive. The lack of red color is part of the other element you bring into the spawning strategy, roe-building as primary energy use. More energy has been converted to roe and is causal in the "grayer" description I insist is more natural for females.

    Now, as long as we are still on your argument about the bucks using their energy to sexual dimorphic ends for enhanced mating... Does it not seem peculiar to say "...still may develop color and kype for several more weeks." I can assure you that statement is half potentially correct and half absolutely false. The kype, being primarily bone needles which grow very rapidly and appear triggered by basic changes during brackish water staging and being primarily not hormonal triggers, start pretty early and coho appear to have the earliest triggers, including dermoskeletal resorbtion. I believe it was Mays that suggested coho had the largest dermoskeletal load conversion per unit of weight?

    What possible good would post-spawn kype development do for an individual or a species and at what cost? Economy of energy is one of those rapid self-regulating things which make such statements highly improbable, or impossible. The kype must have significant breeding value or the energy would not wasted on it. More sperm and more energy left to knock up a few more hens would have far more individual value than a hook nose.

    More later, I have a visitor... He happens to have a fisheries PhD and I may ask his opinion... ;)
  9. Hap,

    Not here to necessarily address your comments; just trying to present some information. The photos I posted were not intended to prove anything. They were merely to show the different colors displayed by spawning coho salmon and show an example of a female fish without any kype, although I acknowledge that the angle for showing the head was not very good.

    You are right about the kype in post-spawn fish. The very reason for its development is the function it has prior to and during spawning.

    At this point, I feel we are at point where we agree to disagree. Nobody will ever know for certain. At least we agree it is not an Atlantic salmon. :rofl:

    Besides, I work for a PhD and have know too many others who had been so far removed from field work, they were worse than the techs. :rofl:
  10. I tried to stay out of this discussion; however I find I can't resist adding my two cents!

    First I think the whole discussion is missing the main point here - That is that local wild ]coho populations continue to exhibit a wide range of diversity in spawning timing. This fish is just another example of that diversity. On our north Sound Rivers I have caught several coho in late March and on at least one occasion seen coho spawning in a Skagit trib in early April. One can find wild coho spawning on local waters from as early as late October into March and as mention sometimes outside of that range. The diversity also extends to run timing. Over the years I have caught adult coho in our rivers in every month of the year except April and May. I find that diversity pretty darn interesting with the result of folks stumbling into a coho at unexpected times and places. And at times the fish have unexpected appearances causing even the experienced angler to pause before correctly IDing the fish.

    It would be my opinion that Bruce's coho picture at the start of this thread is indeed a male that probably has not spawned yet. One thing I have notice with mature coho is that degree to which their "hooks" develop seems to be a function of the fish's size. The hook-nose on a 18 inch Jack is much less pronounce than one on a 20 pound fish. I'm guessing that the fishin question was likely a 5 or 6 pound fish; if so the development of its hooknose seems to be about "right".

    The other important aspect of this discussion is that is not uncommon for anglers to have some uncertainity about a species whcih they catch; especially when the fish in question is encountered in an unexpected situation. Pretty common to see anglers this time of year to keep a coho mistaking it for a steelhead though it usually a female coho that the angelr thought was a male steelhead.

    Tight lines
  11. I am glad Curt posted because his two cents usually results in being worth 2 dollars. He brings up two points that I wanted to add but just plain forgot. Kype size and hook generally is proportionate to fish size, which is why you see the "Northerns" in BC and AK with snouts that actually extend beyond the lower jaw. We don't see as many as those in Washington, I just don't think WA produces as many big coho. Also, the run timing coho exhibit is pretty impressive. I recall talking to old timers on the Skagit catching them 12 months a year. Of course that was back when the river was open in the spring months. I recall seeing coho spawning in Cordova, AK in February, which I thought was pretty late being that far north.
  12. Who cares, we'll never know. The truth is there is no way to be 100% sure unless you break out a knife
    Arguing this is stupid
  13. Who cares, we'll never know. The truth is there is no way to be 100% sure unless you break out a knife
    Arguing this is stupid
  14. This is the only piece of the fish providing any question in my mind and I fully agree with the basic premise of degree of kype development being a function of fish size. I disagree with the analysis conclusion, but agree with premise.

    Some years ago I was involved in a small bait operation in which we purchased commercially netted (seine, drift, and set) low-grade silvers for bait roe recovery. Mistakes were not terribly expensive but I was looking at a lot of fish and deciding whether there was going to be any roe to sell. I absolutely did not go 100% on sexing them, but I did not miss many. The fish were dead at that point and the need for delicacy was not there. The intact skeines were our primary goal. We were buying them a high-graded tote at a time. We may start up again this year as I have been contacted by some old buyers and the market appears to be there.

    So here is the trap, all neatly sprung... Just where did you fellers get the feedback to think this is a male? This fish is clearly short of ready to spawn, so if you saw milt when releasing, as Jerry contends one could, doesn't that mean you were a bit rough? or does it mean the fish was not at the same stage of development?

    I am more than comfortable with what I know of sexing silvers and with the photos provided to say it is great to see you boys all hanging together, I just cannot see where you could possibly have picked up the background for a challenge...

    Too bad we will not know as it would be fun watching you guys wipe the egg off your faces. ;) Pun intended.
  15. So where did us fellers get our feedback to think this is male? You're kidding right? And being rough? Now, if it was a chrome bright fish, fine. You'd be rough to make it milt. But that fish wouldn't take much to milt. So your trap, whatever it is, is moot. As of right now, I'm playing it cool. But I'm about to call a spade a spade. By your responses, I have you dialed in.

    BTW, I would trust ANYTHING Smalma said alot more then you. Guess you don't know his background. Too bad. You may change your mind. Funny how SOOOOOOOO many (who from what I've seen are actual guys who FISH) say buck, but one man who has this vast experience as a guide, commercial buying, and now a friend who is a fisheries PH D, says hen. Hmmmmmmmmm. This makes me wonder. Especially since I'm not sure who truly knows you, or anyone who has fished with you. Or can someone back you up here?
  16. Jerry
    The absolute LAST thing I would want is someone that knows me backing me up here. I have zero interest in running in a beauty contest, less in joining a clique. I think I know who smalma is, and believe we have spoken professionally more than once.

    Further, I would hesitate to cause someone to post here out of the blue as there is no vetting on the internet and subjecting someone to a cluster to prove my point is not a concern of mine. Most people pick up on language and vocabulary when judging an internet post because there really is nothing else if they do not understand the substance.

    And I certainly expect you to side with smalma... I would too if I did not know better. ;)

    Sorry if the trap closed over your head...
  17. LOL, no trap here. And wasn't asking for a "buddy" to back you up in a fight. Just someone who can honestly say "Yeah, Art fishes". I hear alot of mumbo jumbo from you. All cock, no balls.

    BTW, if you plan to troll, prepare for a bigger door to slam on you. ;)
  18. All this fuss over an early spawning juvenile buck coho? That is what I see and I don't need anyone else to agree or disagree. :beathead:
  19. LOL Ed. I'm done with this thread. So you won't see me post again on this thread. Except maybe to park or ban someone.
  20. I like hot popcorn with a touch of Johnny's salt and a BIG coke with lots of ice please.
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