The Largest King Salmon Ever Caught in Ohio was a Regal Catch

King salmon
Dec Hogan/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: November 19, 2023

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Ohio is a great place to go fishing. The Buckeye State has thousands of lakes, the Ohio River, and the massive Lake Erie on its northern border. People can catch over a hundred different species of fish throughout the state, including the king salmon. Discover the largest king salmon ever caught in Ohio and learn about how large it was, when it was caught, and why this record may be unbeatable for any angler in the future!

About the King Salmon

Close up of a fisherman in waders holding a king salmon caught in an Alaskan stream.

King salmon go by many other names, including the chinook salmon.

King salmon are also known as chinook salmon. They belong to the species (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), and they are native to the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the river systems in western North America. The name “king salmon” refers to the fact that these are the largest species in their genus.

These fish can grow between two feet and three feet long, but the largest members of the species can reach almost 5 feet in length. King salmon also achieve high weights, anywhere from 10 to 50 pounds or even heavier!

These fish can vary in terms of appearance. For most of their lifespan, these fish will have a silver color with blue-green coloration on their dorsal side and white on their ventral side. The fish have black dots along their dorsal side and their tails.

Males develop a distinctive hook on their upper jaw during their spawning phase. Male members of the species also change colors to attract a mate. They use a tremendous amount of energy to spawn, and they only spawn once before they die.

These fish are popular targets for anglers because they are large trophy fish that put up a monstrous fight on the line. People who want such a challenge will value the opportunity to catch these fish.

Habitat and Diet

King salmon are born in freshwater habitats, and they also spawn in the same habitats. However, these fish are anadromous, meaning they spend a part of their lifecycle in saltwater. After a few years, they return to freshwater streams and rivers to spawn and die.

However, king salmon in the Great Lakes are not truly anadromous. They live in freshwater for their entire lives, whether in the Great Lakes or the rivers that feed into them.

Chinook salmon are carnivorous creatures that consume many things. They’ll eat insects, crustaceans, and even smaller fish. Anglers often use herring or salmon roe as bait when trying to catch these potentially massive fish.

What Was the Largest King Salmon Ever Caught in Ohio?

An Alaskan King Salmon

King salmon can weigh over 50 pounds.

The largest king salmon ever caught in Ohio weighed 29 pounds 8 ounces and measured 42.875 inches. The record was set on August 4, 1989, on Lake Erie. Walter Shumaker was the name of the angler, and he was from Ashtabula, Ohio.

Little is known about the circumstances of the record-setting catch. No records exist of the bait he used or where he caught the fish. He may have been fishing from a boat on the lake or by the shore, though the former option seems more likely.

Although anglers have captured other large king salmon in this lake, no other fish has matched the record-holder’s size.

Where Is Lake Erie?

Lake Erie is a massive body of water, measuring 9,910 square miles in surface area. This lake is on the northern border of Ohio. However, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan also share borders on this lake in the United States. Additionally, the province of Ontario, Canada has a border on the lake. Lake Erie is impossible to miss on any map of Ohio given its immense size and location.

What Other Fish Live in Lake Erie?

head, barbels and large mouth of a juvenile dangerous freshwater predator channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus in cold-water reservoir biotope fish aquarium

Channel

catfish

are a popular fish species to catch in Lake Erie.

Lake Erie is gigantic. There is no other way to put it. The huge volume of water and the complexity of the Great Lakes water system ensure that all sorts of wildlife thrive in the waters. Lake Erie is one of the most popular fishing spots for people looking for a trophy fish.

Fortunately, people who come to this area have the opportunity to catch all sorts of fish, including:

  • Walleye
  • Channel catfish
  • Longnose gar
  • Burbot
  • White bass
  • Common carp
  • Largemouth bass
  • Lake whitefish
  • Coho salmon
  • Steelhead

These are just a few of the fish anglers seek out when they come to the lake. However, many other species thrive in Lake Erie.

Anglers that come to this lake can successfully fish from the shore or in a boat. Some species of fish, like king salmon, prefer the cooler waters found farther away from the shoreline.  

Why This Record May Stand for Decades to Come

Bright Red Dramatic Sunset Over Lake Erie, Ashtabula Ohio

Lake Erie stretches far to the north of Ohio.

The record for the largest king salmon ever caught in Ohio may stand the test of time. If we go back to the species’ habitat, it is clear that the fish is not native to the Ohio region. The only reason this salmon species made it to the Great Lake region is that various states in the region decided to stock the fish in the waters.

However, these stocking programs are no longer in effect. That issue, combined with the fact that Pacific salmon never really took root in Lake Erie that well, means their overall population in the waters is dwindling. As a result, anglers catch relatively few king salmon in these waters. So, the chances for a new record-breaking fish to emerge from these waters is low.

All in all, the largest king salmon ever caught in Ohio was a sizeable specimen, but hardly the largest one ever caught. Records show that anglers have caught members of this species weighing over 100 pounds. So, Ohio’s record is not all that impressive in comparison.


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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