Angler lands 26-inch landlocked salmon on Skaneateles Lake (updated II)

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The following story and picture has generated some discussion among readers, some who are convinced I made a mistake and that the fish was actually a brown trout. They noted it lacks a semi-forked tail, which they said is a characteristic of Atlantic salmon.

Here’s what I orginally wrote:

Nick Trapani, 23, formerly of Skaneateles and now living in Syracuse, caught this impressive, 26-inch landlocked salmon in Skaneateles Lake today.

He caught it on a spinner, fishing offshore on the northwestern side of the lake.

His plans?

“I’m going eat it, off course,” he said.

This is the second landlocked salmon he’s caught out to the lake, Trapani said. Last winter he caught a smaller one and cooked it over an open fire.

“It was delicious,” he said.

Editor’s note: At first glance, I thought it was landlocked salmon, primarily because it looks like there’s Xs (as opposed to spots) on the fish’s body and that is a characteristic of an Atlantic salmon. . After getting a few emails, I called David Lemon, regional fisheries manager at the DEC’s Cortland office.. he and another wildlife biologist looked at the photo and were split on what it actually was.

I also called my predecessor, J. Michael Kelly, who brought up some of the same points made by Lemon and the other wildlife biologist:

Kelly wrote me:

Dave, I’m torn on this one. I’d like to see a close-up of the spots on back and sides. Do you have a photographer’s “loop” magnifier? If you do, put it so you can tell if the spots are rounded or are quite a few of them X-shaped? The latter indicates salmon. Also, the caudal peduncle (wrist) just ahead of the tail or caudal fin is not real slim (Atlantic) but not real stocky (as with big browns) so at this distance can’t make the call on that basis.

The scientific determinant would be the number of rays in the anal fin — 9 if Atlantic, 10-12 if a brown trout — but the angler has that fin covered with his hand. Finally, a brown trout’s upper jaw is longer (maxillary bone extends rear to behind eye) than a salmon MOST of the time but not always.

The color of spots doesn’t matter much because lake-dwelling browns often have black or dark brown spots except when spawning in the fall. They have orange spots at that time, with haloes — but so do some spawning Atlantics.

In this case I would be interested in a biologist’s opinion.

Bottom line: The DEC doesn’t stock browns in Skaneateles Lake, although some wild ones could make it in from one of the lake’s tributaries. Either way, it’s a rarity if it’s a brown. Kelly and DEC’s literature on this subject said the semi-forked tail, which some readers mentioned as a distinguishing Atlantic salmon characteristic is not true in all cases.

Thus, unless conclusively proven otherwise (All I have is the picture) I’m sticking with my initial conclusion that the fish is a landlocked salmon. The way Nick was sounding when I first talked to him, he’s probably eaten by now…

Editor’s note: : One last thing, I read how DR-3 notes its a brown trout, in no uncertain terms. After reading his post I blew the picture up to 200 and then 250 times its original size. Guess what? Those marks on the side are definitely Xs, not spots. Once again, I’m sticking with my original conclusion — ;landlocked salmon..

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