Fishing on the French River Delta is home to some the most diverse freshwater species of game fish, known most predominantly for its muskie, walleye, pike, large and smallmouth bass fishing. However, these waters and fishery are also a home to the pinks, chinook, and coho as they migrate from Lake Huron to Georgian Bay and into the French River Delta to lay their eggs. The salmon make their journey into the system as early as July, but are very rarely seen before September through November.
Often times anglers snag salmon while fishing for walleye or even muskie. Fisherman are surprised and often do not recognize their catch and confuse it for a different species, such as trout. Trout normally are not .
Average pink salmon weighs 3-5 lbs at maturity and can reach as high as 10 lbs. The fins have large oval black spots on the caudal fin (tail fin) and reach maturity in 2 years. A prominent hump helps to distinguish between a male from the female pink salmon. The above pink salmon is pre-spawn that was photographed and then released.
Chinook is the largest of the three species of salmon in the French River and can tip the scale at 126 lbs, but rarely do the top the scale at 60 lbs with averages of 18 lbs. They exhibit irregular black spots on their back dorsal fin and both lobes of the caudal fin. Approximately in one year, a male chinook can reach maturity and they can begin to spawn. Life and spawn expectancy is up to 8 years. A male salmon, in the sandy-gravel spawning beds will become progressively blacker while the female becomes a brassy color.
Coho salmon, also known as hooknose or silver salmon, since 1967 have provided an immense fishery for the Great Lakes, of which the French River is a part of. Silvery in color with black spots located only at the top of the caudal fin and the coho has a ‘white gum line’ at the needle like teeth bases. Some cohos weigh up to 33 lbs, but most weigh an average of 6-12 lbs at maturity. Spawning occurs from October until February and normally in gravel beds. These fish can live up to 4 years and do not travel far from their birthplace.
The French River ended its fishing season at Bear’s Den Lodge with a guest catching his first pink salmon. What a great ending to a great season with this fisherman delighted!