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MN DNR Q & A
Q: What species of fish run into North Shore streams during the fall?
A: The Minnesota waters of Lake Superior provide fall spawning runs of Pink Salmon, coaster Brook Trout, Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon and Brown Trout. These runs are generally smaller and less consistent than other areas in Lake Superior. That’s because North Shore streams have limited spawning habitat available for migratory fish due to steep waterfalls that act as natural barriers to fish passage. Most fall spawning fish caught in Minnesota are the result of limited reproduction below natural barriers, fish migrating to the lake from above those barriers, and fish originating from other states.
Pink salmon are the most abundant species observed in the fall spawning run. Beginning in September, they begin migration and seek spawning areas in Lake Superior tributaries. “Humpbacks,” as pink salmon are often called, can be found congregating near river mouths. Pink salmon spawning runs fluctuate widely from year-to-year and high numbers are commonly observed every third year.
In October, native coaster Brook Trout will migrate to spawn in tributaries and shoal areas of Lake Superior. Although few Coho and Chinook salmon reproduce on Minnesota’s North Shore, limited runs of these species also enter tributaries in October. Lake-run Brown Trout are rare, but can be found in limited numbers (typically in large tributaries on the lower shore) throughout the fall. Additionally, a small number of steelhead Rainbow Trout make their migration during fall in preparation to spawn the following spring. The timing and frequency of fall runs on the North Shore is highly dependent on individual river conditions, including water temperature and fall rains.
Nick Peterson, DNR migratory fish specialist
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