Salmon are one of the most popular game fish in North America. The fish are fighters and worthy opponents for any angler. Salmon are members of the Salmonidae family, which include trout, whitefish, and chars. Atlantic salmon belong to the genus Salmo and are more closely related to trout than the Pacific varieties of salmon. There are five types of salmon species found off the west coast of British Columbia. When you come north for the best salmon fishing in Canada, you’ll want to know how to identify the different types.
Types of Pacific Salmon
Pacific salmon are anadromous. The fish are born in freshwater, then they migrate to the ocean. They will live in the ocean for their adult life before returning to the stream where they were born, to reproduce. These are the types of salmon we see on our salmon fishing charters, with Chinook/King and Coho/Silver being the main type of salmon we catch.
1. Chinook or King Salmon
Chinook salmon are the prized fish for anglers because they are more difficult to catch due to their size and strength. The average size of Chinook salmon is about 17 kilograms, but these fish can get up to 50 kilograms or more. The Chinook is blue-green, red, or purple on the back, with black spots on its tail. You can catch Chinook from April to September, but the largest ones are typically caught in July and August.
2. Coho or Silver Salmon
Coho salmon are the other main salmon we catch. Characterized by silver sides with dark-blue backs, they may darken when they move to their spawning grounds. Although they are a bit smaller than Chinook, weighing a modest 16 kilograms on average, they can be more difficult to catch because they can be aggressive and acrobatic. The season for Coho starts in July, but they are best caught in late fall, October, and November, when they are bigger.
3. Pink Salmon – AKA Humpies
Pink salmon are the smallest of the Pacific salmon. They average around 2.2 kilograms but can get as large as 6 kilograms. Mature pink salmon have a large, humped back, hence their nickname. They have a V-shaped tail fin without any silver. They’re a great sport fish that even children can reel in and their fishing season is from July to September.
4. Chum or Dog Salmon
Chum salmon have a dark horizontal stripe on each side. They also have canine-like teeth, large pupils, and a forked tail. They’re silvery blue-green when they live in the ocean, but when they return to freshwater, they take on a dark olive-green hue. Chum are the second largest salmon, weighing between 4.4 to 10 kilograms. There is an abundance of chum salmon. They are strong and will be a worthy catch, but seafood lovers say their meat isn’t as tasty as Chinook or Sockeye. The cooler months are the best times to catch chum.
5. Red Salmon AKA Sockeyes
Sockeye salmon are recognizable by the lack of spots on their tail and back and the long gill rakers. When they are found in the ocean, they will be blue and silver, but when they return to the spawning stream, they turn red with green heads. They weigh between 2 to 7 kilograms and the best season for sockeyes is from July to September.
Experience the Best Salmon Fishing in Canada this Summer
For a true summer adventure in the Pacific Northwest, book your retreat at one of the best BC salmon fishing lodges. Eagle Nook Resort in Barkley Sound offers luxurious accommodations, private fishing charters and fine dining, set in a remote location surrounded by natural beauty. Get more information on booking your stay for the fishing season.