FACTS ABOUT SALMON
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 4 to 7 year olds:
largest 15 lbs and up.
Salmon migrate at the
- 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
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
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
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.
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.