Pacific Coast Salmon
There are (5) five basic species of salmon that are found in the streams and rivers that flow into the Pacific
Ocean on the west coast of the United States and Canada.
Chinook or King Salmon:
The King salmon or Chinook salmon is are the largest of the five species and the most prized species to catch
on the fly rod. These salmon can live for five to seven years and grow up to 120 pounds. The Chinook Salmon
is the largest of the Salmonidae family but the least common of the Pacific salmon genus Oncorhynchus. The
Chinook is an anadromous species, meaning it can live in both salt and fresh water but it can also live solely in
freshwater as proven by the Great Lakes transplanted species. The Chinook is a strong and hard-fighting fish.
They rarely jump but they dive deep and are difficult to land.
Sockeye or Red Salmon:
The Sockeye salmon are also called red salmon. The landlocked form is called Kokanee salmon. They grow up
to thirty-three inches long and up to fifteen pounds. The average size is around five pounds. Sockeye Salmon
are also called Red Salmon because of the very red meat. They turn red while going up the rivers to spawn.
Sockeye Salmon are born in fresh water streams and rivers but spend quite a bit of time growing in lakes. They
journey head out to sea from one to four years before returning to the freshwater stream they were born in to
spawn and die. They can also adapt to living entirely in freshwater.
Coho or Silver Salmon:
The Coho or Silver Salmon lives between two to four years and grows up to be as large as 36 inches long and
up to 33 pounds. They average only about five to twelve pounds. They have been introduced into the Great
Lakes and are now very abundant there. Coho fry live in rivers and streams for over a year. They prefer small
streams and are an angler's favorite because of their ability to make leaping jumps. They hatch in rivers and
small streams; spend most of their life in the ocean, or lakes, in the case of the Great Lakes, and return to
spawn in their rivers of origin. The Coho salmon die after spawning.
Pink Salmon or Humpback Salmon;
The Pink or Humpback Salmon only average living for two years. They can grow up to 30 inches long and
weight up to twelve pounds but they average much less in size, usually weighting about two or three pounds.
They fight good on very light fly tackle but don't compare to the other species of salmon as a sport fish. Pink
salmon spend 18 months at sea and return to the stream or river they were born in. Most of the pink salmon
mature in two years, so odd and even years are dominant in some areas, but are about even in others.
Chum Salmon or Dog Salmon:
The Chum Salmon or Dog Salmon average living from two to five years. They can grow as large as 38 inches
long and weight up to thirty-five pounds but the average weight is more like eight pounds. They are different
from the other salmon species in that they leave the freshwater streams they are born in as soon as they hatch.
Chum Salmon travel in schools when getting close to the river and can provide some very good action for fly
anglers. They return to the rivers and streams to spawn within three to five years. They are the last salmon
species to spawn. The spawn usually takes place during the month of November.
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