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Facts About Salmon

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  • Chinook Salmon are the most popular sought after sport fish.
  • Spawning Salmon return to the precise stream of their birth, sometimes overcoming great distances and river conditions to reach their home.
  • Chinook are very sensitive to light.  The time of day will dictate where the fish are. Chinook will go to within a few feet of the surface at night and early morning,  but dip as low as 200 to 250' on hot sunny afternoons.
  • Winter Chinook will be found in deeper water than summer Chinook.    
  • It is not unusual to find in-migrating winter Chinook at up to 100' below a school of summer Chinook residing on the top layers of water.
  • The largest Pacific Salmon caught in Alaskan waters, a Chinook (King), weighed in at 126 pounds.
    In some European countries weights of 100 pounds and slightly over have been reported for the Atlantic Salmon.
  • Chinook are fish eaters.  They prefer smaller injured dying fish and are particularly adept at picking them out of schools.  Baits (the fresher the better) imitating these actions will always do the best.
    Chinook are the only Salmon that have either white or pink meat.
  • Their average weights are usually from 20 to 70 lbs.
  • Adult females will lay from 4,000 to 6,000 eggs.

Chinook Weight:

  • 1st year:  Under 2 lbs and are less than 18" long
  • 2nd year:  Close to 5 lbs & 2 feet long
  • 3 years old:  10 to 15 lbs
  • 4 to 7 year olds:  largest 15 lbs and up.  

Salmon migrate at the following ages:

  • Fall Chinook - 3-4 months after being hatched
  • Spring Chinook, 12-16 months after being hatched
  • Silver (Coho) - 1 to 2 years after being hatched
  • Chum- 10 to 30 days after being hatched
  • Sockeye- 1 to 3 years after being hatched
  • Pink- 7 to 30 days after being hatched

Chinook Salmon
The Chinook species is the largest Pacific Salmon usually about 33-36 inches in length and will weigh in at about 30 pounds. The mouth of these males is greatly deformed with an enlarged lower jaw which enables it to close its sharp toothed jaws. The coloring of the chinook is a glowing green to blueish-green with gold sparkling or sheen, silvery sides and a white belly. Breeding fish are an overall olive-brown to purple color, males darker than females. Marine adults are found almost exclusively in the Pacific Ocean. Young and spawning tyee can be found in most of the rivers flowing into these water bodies.  Chinook migrate as much as 600-1200 miles upriver between mid summer and late november. Females digs lay on their sides, thrash their tails up and down and so can form a small hole where they lay their eggs. Females die within a few days to 2 weeks. The young in fresh water feed on terrestrial insects, Crustacea and adults, mites, spiders and aphids. Young chinook in fresh water are preyed on by rainbow and cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, coho Salmon smolts, squawfish, sculpins, kingfisher and other diving birds.
Coho Salmon
These Salmon are usually 18-24 inches in length and weigh from 8-12 pounds. The head is conical with a  snout bluntly pointed but greatly extended, thickened and turned down in breeding males. These breeding males are characterized by their inability to close their mouths. All have sharp teeth on both jaws. Adults in the ocean are colored a steel-blue to slightly green with silver sides, white bellies and small black spots on the back. The coloring is not as spectacular in fresh water specimens.  Coho Salmon are found in the Pacific Ocean and its tributary drainage. They can also be found in some fresh water areas including the Great Lakes.  After spending up to 1 1/2 years at sea these 3-5 year old adults migrate late in the season and over a prolonged period. Often they school at the mouths of rivers and move up when fall rains increase river flows. Generally a coho will not travel more than 150 miles up river from the sea or lake. Spawning takes place anywhere between October and January. Females will lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs guarding them until they die a few days later. The fry emerge from early March to late July and although some will migrate almost immediately, most remain at least one year in fresh water lakes or streams. Chum Salmon
A mature adult chum is usually about two feet in length and average about 10 pounds. Breeding male chums also have a slight hump before the dorsal fin and notice a very distinct color change. A cold-blue and the back and upper sides with fine black speckles turning into a silver-white on the belly are attributes of the chum. They are most often found in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and Okhotsk and Bering Seas.  Spawning fish migrate to the rivers anywhere from mid summer to late late in November,  depending on where they live. They rarely penetrate a river more than 100 miles and often will spawn in tidal areas showing a lesser ability to surmount obstacles than other species. Females will lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs before dying a few days later. Hatching usually occurs from late December to late February. They remain in the gravel until late April to early spring when they migrate to the sea. Food intake includes insects, fish larva, fish and squid. Adults in fresh water do not take food.
Kokanee & Sockeye Salmon
Kokanee is very similar to sockeye and differ mostly in their sizes. These species are often only 8-9 inches long when mature. (A sockeye is about two feet long when it returns to freshwater.) The head s are pointed in shape with pointed snouts and small teeth on their jaws. Breeding males have a more compressed head and body with a prolonged, hooked, turned up snout and a small hump before the dorsal fin. Breeding males and females exhibit noticeable color changes. Typical coloring of this species is a brilliant cold-blue to greenish-blue and they display no distinct spots Their sides are bright silver with a white to silver belly.  Kokanee are found .in many parts of Western US from Northern California to North Alaska. Kokanee are also found in Japan and Russia. Kokanee spawn in the fall from September to October. Adults usually enter inlet streams of the lake in which they are living or they may spawn in gravel beds along its shore. Females prepares the nest and lays 300 to 1500 eggs and then die within a few days to a few weeks.. Hatching occurs in December-January and emergence is not until March-May. Generally this species live a total of 4 years. Kokanee can get as large as 21" to 23" and up to 5 and 6 lbs.
Pink Salmon
The most numerous of Salmon a pink is usually about 18" to 24" in length and grow to from 4 to 5 pounds with a cone-shaped head and smaller eyes. Breeding males sport a snout that is greatly extended and turned down at the tip and their lower jaw will be enlarged and unable to close with sharp teeth on both jaws. Males (breeding) will have a large hump before their dorsal fin whereas the female will not exhibit changes except in color. A cold-blue to bluish-green with large black spots and silvery sides are the coloring. A less brilliant yet similar color is in permanent freshwater pink Salmon. Pinkies can be found in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans most commonly. Young and spawning adults are found in most tributary rivers of North America and North East Asia.  During early summer and into late fall adults migrate from the sea into freshwater anywhere from from 50 to 300 miles upstream. Spawning takes place from mid summer to November.. Females lay from 1500 to 2000 eggs. Females will guard their nests as long as they are able to but the spawning adults die in a few days or weeks. Hatching occurs from in January and February. Average lifespan of a pink Salmon is two years. Moat often they will return to the river they were hatched in to spawn. They prefer to eat a variety of fish and squid. Various stream fish eat the young pink Salmon including cutthroat and rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, coho Salmon smolts and squawfish. Also predator birds account for the loss of a number of smaller pinks.


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