(See Fish Gallery Below)
The salmonids include about 38 species in North America including Pacific salmon, the Atlantic salmon, trout, and whitefish; three trout species are found in Virginia. All salmonids have soft (no spines) fin rays, an adipose fin, and fine cycloid scales. The Pacific and Atlantic salmon are native, anadromous fish, hatch in coastal streams, spend most of their adult life in the ocean, and return to their home stream as adults to spawn and die. The five species of Pacific salmon native to North America are the chinook (king), coho (silver), sockeye (red), pink, and chum (dog) salmon. There is only one species of Atlantic salmon.|
Trout inhabit coldwater streams and cold, clear lakes across the nation. Brook trout (a native eastern species), rainbow (steelhead) trout, cutthroat trout, and bull trout (all native western species), brown trout (a European import) and lake trout (from the northern states and Canada) have been widely stocked throughout the nation wherever cold water temperatures exist. Whitefish include about 20 morphologically similar species which, as lake trout, are found in cold, northern lakes.
Adult female salmon returning from the ocean dig a depression (redd) in stream bottom gravel into which eggs are deposited, fertilized by males, and then covered with gravel by the female. Adult salmon die after spawning and provide no parental care for the young. Salmon produce eggs with very large yolk sacs. After hatching, young salmon may remain in stream from 1-3 years before they turn silver (smolt) and begin their seaward migration. At this time they become imprinted on their home stream odor, allowing them to return to their home stream as adults many years later to spawn.
Salmon and trout support a major commercial and recreational coldwater fisheries. The commercial high-seas fishery for salmon employs thousands of fisherpeople and is a huge industry. In the Great Lakes, salmon, whitefish, and lake trout are commercially caught. Salmon and trout are widely farmed in fresh and saltwater ponds and pens as food fish. Brook, rainbow, and brown trout are frequently stocked for put-and-take angling in freshwater lakes and streams.