Rogue River Trout & Salmon Species

Rogue River Trout & Salmon Species

(Photos Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources)


Chinook Salmon: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha



Most anglers refer to Chinooks as “kings,” and they are certainly the kings of the Michigan sport fishery. Often caught in rivers and the big lakes in excess of 20 lbs, with some growing even bigger, king salmon provide the best opportunity for anglers to lose their tackle. Native to the Pacific Northwest, kings have been established in Michigan big lakes and streams since the 1960’s. They begin swimming up most rivers in late summer, and can be found in good numbers in many streams in the fall.


Chinooks are not stocked by the DNR in the Rogue, however they can be found throughout the lower river in the autumn. 


Coho Salmon: Oncorhynchus kisutch



Coho salmon are native to the Pacific coast of North America, and were originally introduced to Michigan in the 1960’s. They travel up Michigan rivers in the fall to spawn, often a little later than Chinooks. In Michigan, they range in size from 5 to 12 lbs, but larger specimens are often caught - the state record is a giant 30.56 pounds! Once in the rivers and spawning, cohos often acquire red coloring on their sides.


Coho are reared at the Platt River State Fish Hatchery, and stocked annually by the DNR in the lower Rogue River. Many lake and river anglers target cohos for their meat, which makes excellent table fare.


Rainbow Trout: Oncorhynchus mykiss



Rainbow trout that live in large lakes and migrate up rivers to spawn are called “steelhead.” Steelhead are originally from the Pacific Northwest, where they are still abundant. In Michigan, they are stocked in rivers, where they annually return to spawn after spending much of their adult lives in the big lake. Some stay in rivers for their entire lives, and are simply called “rainbow trout.” The DNR stocks rainbow trout in both the lower and upper Rogue.


Although they spawn in the early spring, usually March through early May, many steelhead can be found in Michigan rivers throughout the year. Anglers plying the Rogue with light tackle for trout should be ready anytime of the year to fight this outstanding game fish, known for acrobatic jumps during fights.


In addition to being a fantastic game fish, this species is known for its delicious meat.


Brown Trout: Salmo trutta



Like rainbow trout, brown trout can be migratory. Many brown trout spend their entire lives in rivers, while others live in lakes, and migrate upstream to spawn in the fall. Brown trout are native to Europe, but Michigan anglers have been fishing for them since the late 1800’s.


Browns are known to be a worthy sport fish, as they are intelligent and particular. They are stocked by the DNR in both the upper and lower Rogue, and several tributaries help this species naturally reproduce in the area. Anglers can find them tight to their line using all manner of tackle, but beware: this species will not be fooled easily. Nighttime seems to be when larger browns lose their careful nature, and some anglers know this secret. If you happen to tie into a lake-run brown trout, you could be in for a fight: migratory browns can weigh upwards of 8 pounds.


Brown trout sport a variety of patterns on them, with black and red spots adorning a yellowish body. Some can take on an orange hue, while others are closer to silver. All are highly-sought by anglers over much of the world.


(Photos Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources)