Category   Fish of BC: Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Pink, & Chum Salmon
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Pacific Salmon

Chinook Salmon (King, Spring, Tyee)

Chinook Salmon
The Patriarch of the Salmon family, largest of all the species, they also live the longest. This Pacific Salmon averages 33 to 38 inches in length and weighs about 30 lbs.

With a life cycle of 3 to 7 years, these salmon remain out in the ocean longer than any other species, accounting for their dominant size. Off Vancouver Island, 40 and 50 pounders are not uncommon.

Year-round angling sees the larger catches in Summer/Fall, while Winter/Spring gives great angling for dinner-size winter springs. Ocean and river angling can prove to be tackle busting if not properly equipped. Sheer brute strength and powerful long runs, when hooked, describe the fighting qualities of these magnificent salmon.

Coho Salmon (Silver, Blueback)

Coho Salmon
They are the most popular game fish of the salmon family, as well as being one of the most valuable commercial species. The coho is usually 20 to 26 inches in length and 8 to 12 lbs in weight, with a 3 to 5 year life cycle.

Coho have the reputation, pound for pound, of being by far the best fighting salmon. Around Vancouver Island, 20 pound Coho can seem to be the norm in the Fall months.

Available through most of the summer, their size increases till late Fall spawning. The ocean, estuaries and rivers are great places to hook these aggressive salmon. Troll bucktail flies in the ocean and flyfish estuaries and rivers for these awesome fighters. Acrobatic leaps, tail-walks and screaming reels account for the popularity of these fighting fish.

Sockeye Salmon (Red, Kokanee)

The sockeye is rated as the best eating salmon by virtue of its delectable taste. There are saltwater (Sockeye ) and freshwater (Kokanee, lake-locked) species. They are very similar in appearance, except that the saltwater sockeye attains a larger length and weight.

A plankton feeder, the Sockeye Salmon can reach weights of over 10 lbs, and are usually about 20 to 24 inches in length. The flesh is often blood-red, with a high oil content and a great flavour.

You can intercept these very streamlined salmon in the summer months in the ocean and rivers of BC. Sockeye are generally known to be hard to catch, but when hooked on light tackle, they are strong determined fighters.

Pink Salmon (Humpback, Humpie)

The most prolific of the salmon family, a pink reaches 20 to 26 inches in length and averages 3 to 6 lbs in weight . Although they are the smallest of the Pacific Salmon, they can attain weights of over 10 lbs.

A two year life cycle makes every other year a "pink year", as the pinks return to their spawning river after only a couple of years plankton feeding in the ocean, unlike other species of salmon which mature after 3 to 5 years at sea.

The male pink develops a prominent hump between the head and dorsal fin when returning to their river spawning grounds, hence the name "humpie". This summer angling fish is easy to catch and is a great introduction to fishing for children and novices. If you're angling on a "pink year", you're almost guaranteed to catch your legal limit of Pink Salmon.

Chum Salmon (Dog, Keta)

Chum Salmon
A very underrated salmon, with great fighting ability and a growing popularity. A mature chum is about 26 inches in length and averages 10 lbs in weight. There are lots of larger fish in the 20 to 30 lb range. Another two year life cycle salmon, and also a plankton feeder.

Prior to spawning, the appearance of the males is shocking, as their lower jaw protrudes to display a sharp set of teeth, hence the name "dog salmon" (or keta, the Russian word for dog).

Chums are most distinguishable by the large and distinct dark purple vertical bars along their sides when close to spawning. A strong, scrappy salmon that's very aggressive in freshwater, making them a great fly fishing challenge in our rivers.

Contact us if you need more information, have a question or need a guide service on southern Vancouver Island.

Pacific Salmon Spawn - The Return of the Salmon by Bruce Whittington

Written by Scott Blewett
EX-Stream Steelhead Guide Service
Victoria, British Columbia
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