King "Chinook" Salmon
King Salmon from Klutina
Alaska King Salmon (Chinook): Blue gray back with silvery sides. Small irregular shaped spots on back, dorsal fin, and usually on both lobes of tail. The gum line is black. Spawning adults take on a maroon to olive color. Alaska King Salmon is the largest species of Pacific Salmon. The present Alaska state sport fishing record is 97.25 lbs taken on the Kenai River. In fact, of the top 10 king salmon record holders 9 of these fish were taken in the Kenai River. King salmon spend from 2-5 years in the ocean so their size in a run varies a lot, the State of Alaska average for this salmon is about 20lbs., and however Kenai king salmon are typically in the 50 lb range. No other salmon draws as much attention as the King Salmon which is the official State of Alaska fish.
Chum "Dog" Salmon
A Chum from Montana Creek
The Chum Salmon is perhaps best destinguished from it's cousins by the calico markings you find on the sides during the spawning phase of this salmon. Both sexes develop a "tiger stripe" pattern of bold red and black stripes after they enter fresh water. Ocean stage chum salmon are metallic greenish-blue along the back with black speckles. Chum, or "Dog" Salmon are perhaps the most underapreciated of the five Pacific Salmon Species. With the aggressive nature of this species, it makes it worth targeting for a day on the water. Find yourself a good Chum stream, and we guarantee you will walk away feeling satisfied about your fishing day, along with a sore shoulder from the fights these brutes put up.
Sockeye "Red" Salmon
Klutina River and a Sockeye from 1000 casts
Sockeye Salmon (Reds, Red Salmon): Dark blue-black back with silvery sides. No distinct spots on back, dorsal fin or tail. Spawning adults develop dull green heads and red bodies. Red salmon or sockeye are one of the most numerous species of salmon to populate streams and rivers in the Kenai Peninsula and Copper River Basin and many will swear that for eating no salmon tops the Alaska red salmon. The red salmon is by far the State of Alaska’s most valuable commercial salmon species. The sockeye salmon is a plankton feeder which is unlike the other Alaska salmon species and they are very passive toward lures. This salmon generally spends 2-3 years in the ocean before it returns to its spawning waterways in large schools. The driving force that brings the sockeye salmon to migrate to its spawning bed is legendary. You need only watch them leap waterfalls and speed through fast currents to see the force and will to survive that the red salmon possesses. Pound for pound the Sockeye is the strongest and most demanding sport fish in Alaska. The State of Alaska sport fishing record for this salmon is 16 pounds
Coho "Silver" Salmon
Silver bullet of a Coho Salmon from Fish Creek
Alaska Coho (Silver) salmon: Greenish blue back with silvery sides. Small black spots appear on the back, dorsal fin, and usually on the upper lobe of the tail. The gum line is white to light gray. Spawning adults develop greenish black heads and dark brown to maroon bodies. The Alaska silver salmon or Coho has been called the greatest Alaska sport fish. The State of Alaska sport fishing record is 26 pounds. The general weight range on the Kenai River and Kenai Peninsula stream systems run from 9-24 pounds. The Coho has certainly has an important place in Alaska subsistence and commercial fisheries. The life cycle of the silver salmon is similar to that of the Alaska king salmon. Coho salmon will stay in the freshwater for a year or two before migrating to the saltwater where they will spend at least 2 years swimming the Kenai coastal waters or in the Gulf of Alaska. Even as young smolt in freshwater the Alaska silver salmon is a voracious and aggressive eater and are known to eat each other. These aggressive tendencies are their undoing as a sport fish. Beginning in late July, Alaska silver salmon will begin to congregate in bays and near mouths of their spawning streams and rivers as they wait for nature to optimize water temperature and stream flow before they continue migration to their freshwater spawning grounds.
Pink "Humpy" Salmon
Pink 'Humpy' Salmon at Sheep Creek
The pink salmon is known as the "humpback" or "humpy" because of its distorted, extremely humpbacked appearance, which is caused by the very pronounced, laterally flattened hump which develops on the backs of adult males before spawning. This appears between the head and the dorsal fin and develops by the time the male enters the spawning stream, in addition to a hooked upper jaw or kype. An important commercial catch, the pink salmon is the smallest North American member of the Pacific salmon group of the Salmonidae family. In many Alaskan coastal fishing communities, particularly south of Kotzebue Sound, it is considered a "bread and butter" fish because of its commercial significance to fisheries and thus to local economies. It has some sport fishing value in Alaskan rivers, less so than Coho or Chinook salmon, but little elsewhere. The flesh is pinkish, rather than red or white, and it is mostly sold canned but also utilized fresh, smoked, and frozen, and valued for caviar, especially in Japan. The flesh is of most value when the fish is still an open water inhabitant, as it deteriorates rapidly once the fish enter rivers. in Alaska. The State of Alaska sport fishing record for this salmon is 16 pounds.