King Salmon

A sixty-pound king on troll gear jolts you. The rigging throbs, the lines sing, and you wait, gaff at the ready for that great head to break the surface next to the boat. In a symphony of adrenaline, stamina, and action, a great king anchors your feet to the deck and sends sparks out your toes.
Chinook salmon (King salmon) average between 20 and 40 pounds in weight, and between 30 and 50 inches in length.

EChinook salmon often make long spawning migrations to reach their home streams on some of the larger river systems. Chinook bound for headwaters in Yukon Territory, Canada, travel more than 2.000 miles up the Yukon River. As the largest of the Pacific salmon, chinook seek out faster flows of water and larger spawning gravel than the other species. Each female lays from 3.000 to 14.000 eggs in her gravel nests, or redds.
Sockeye Salmon
Sockeye Salmon are categorized as Ocean Caught or Bright Sockeye and Semi-bright according to skin coloration. This category grading may vary by company, market requirements and buyer’s specifications. Categories are usually agreed upon by buyer and seller at the time the product is sold. This guide depicts color changes in fresh Sockeye Salmon. Please note that changes in skin color may occur after freezing. Slight differences in color may also be attributable to the geographic region in which the fish was caught.
This guide documents skin color, not meat color. Ocean Caught or Bright Sockeye are a deep greenish-blue on the top of the head and back, silver on the sides with a white belly. The backs of Semi-bright fish turn to a dull black and the belly may exhibit slight darkening.

Alaska range:Southeastern Alaska to Nome

Fishing Methods: Gillnet, Seine

QuantitySockeye average 31.0% by fish of the annual Alaska salmon harvest and 33.3% by weight of the annual Alaska salmon harvest.

One of the most valuable and abundant of the Alaska salmon, Sockeye have a deep, red flesh. Sockeye can grow to almost three feet in length and weigh up to 15 pounds but will average 25 inches in length and weigh 6 pounds. Sockeye or Red Salmon have long been canned, but in more recent years they are becoming increasingly favored in the fresh and frozen states as their unique characteristics become more widely known.
Coho Salmon
This guide depicts color changes in fresh coho (silver) Salmon. Please note that changes in skin color may occur after freezing. Slight differences in color may also be attributable to the geographic region in which the fish was caught.
Coho salmon are normally dark metallic blue on the back and upper sides and an intense silver color on the sides. A few small black spots may be found on the black and on the upper lobe of the tail. The caudal peduncle is unusually broad compared with other species of Pacific salmon, and a silvery plate is evident on the tail. Sexually maturing coho salmon develop a slight pink or rose shading along the belly and the males may show a slight arching of the back. Mature coho salmon have a pronounced red skin color with darker backs. Females may be darker than males, with both showing a pronounced hook on the nose.

Alaska Range: Southeastern Alaska to Nome

Fishing methods: Gillnet, seine, troll

Quantity: Coho salmon average 3.5% by fish of the annual Alaska salmon harvest; 5.9% by weight of the annual Alaska salmon harvest.

Coho salmon are the backbone of the Alaska troll fishery, however, the majority are caught by the net fishery. Coho are unusually active and attractive fish which range from 25 to 35 inches in length, and weigh from 2 to 12 pounds. An average full-size adult will usually be about 10 pounds and 29 inches long. Silvers weighing up to 36 pounds have been reported.
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Salmón Keta
Chum salmon are often categorized as bright, semi-bright and dark according to skin coloration. This category grading may vary by company, market requirements and buyer’s specifications. The categories are usually agreed upon by buyer and seller at the time the product is sold.
This guide depicts color changes in fresh chum salmon. Please note that changes in skin color may occur after freezing. Slight differences in color may also be attributable to the geographic region in which the fish was caught. This guide documents skin color, not meat color.

Bright chums are a dark metallic greenish-blue becoming silver on the sides and belly at the time of catch. Fine, pale bars may be present.

Semi-bright chums begin to show darker bars on the sides, and the skin and back begin to dull.

Dark chums have well developed dark bars on the sides which have become a deep red. The bars on the male are vertical and may extend from the belly to the back, while the female may have a single broad stripe running horizontally from the gill plate to the tail.

Alaska Range: Southeastern Alaska to the Artic Ocean

Fishing methods Gillnet, seine

Quantity: Chum salmon average 15.3% by fish of the annual Alaska salmon harvest; 17.6% by weight of the annual Alaska salmon harvest.

Chum salmon grow to be 25 to 27 inches long and usually range from 6 to 18 pounds, although the record fish weighed 33 pounds and was slightly more than 36 inches in length. Females are usually smaller than males.
Pink Salmon
This guide depicts color changes in fresh Pink Salmon. Please note that changes in skin color may occur after freezing. Slight differences in color may also be attributable to the geographic region in which the fish was caught.

Ocean Bright Pinks are characterized by a slim body, shiny silvery skin, very small scales, and large black spots on the tail and back.

Semi-bright show a slight distortion of the back as the hump begins to develop in the males, deeper body in females, and upper jaw begins to arch, and dark bars are barely apparent on the sides.

The skin of Dark Pinks has become darker, thicker and coarser and a pronounced hump has developed on the males with darker pronounced bars on the sides.

Fishing methods Gillnet, seine, troll

Quantity: Pinks average 55.8% by fish of the annual Alaska salmon harvest; 44% by weight of the annual Alaska salmon harvest.

The smallest and most abundant of the Alaska salmon, a Pink will run from 2 to 6 pounds with the average being slightly less than 4 pounds. Most pink Salmon are canned but increasing numbers are entering the fresh and frozen markets as they become more popular as small, economical salmon for table use.
King Salmon
Sockeye Salmon
Coho Salmon
Chum Salmon
Pink Salmon
  • The great Alaskan salmon fishing season starts in May and ends in September/October, at the end of the feeding cycle and before the fish go up-river to breed.
  • Fish returning to fresh water at the start of the season have a brighter skin color than those that come later, but all darken as spawning time comes closer.
  • The darkest skin and palest flesh generally indicate more mature fish with lower commercial value than fish with a bright silvery skin and more intense flesh color.
  • However, the flesh and skin color vary from region to region, and between species, and do not always reflect the intrinsic quality of the salmon.
  • Approximately 10% of King salmon have a white flesh color and are considered by many as the finest salmon in the world.