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Chinook Salmon fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.

Chinook salmon may spend between 1 to 8 years in the ocean before returning to their natal streams to spawn, though the average is 3 to 4 years. Adults migrate from a marine environment into the freshwater streams and rivers of their birth in order to mate. They spawn only once and then die. Fry may migrate to the sea after only 3 months in fresh water; some may stay for as long as 3 years, but generally most stay a year in the stream before migrating. Some individuals remain close inshore throughout their lives, but some make extensive migrations. They could be finding at up to 375 m depth. Chinook salmon also found in lakes. Food in streams is terrestrial and aquatic insects, amphipods and small crustaceans while young; in the sea, major food items include fishes, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. Highly regarded game fish. Flesh is usually red, but some are white; the red meat commands a higher price. Marketed fresh, smoked, frozen, and canned. Eaten steamed, fried, broiled, boiled, microwaved, and baked.

Chinook Salmon Fishing The Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, from Russian ЧАВЫЧА is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon family and is the family's largest member. It is a Pacific Ocean salmon variously known as the King salmon, Tyee salmon, Columbia River salmon, Black salmon, Chub salmon, Hook Bill salmon, Winter salmon, Spring Salmon, Quinnat Salmon and Blackmouth.

Chinook Salmon are typically divided into races with "spring chinook", "summer chinook", and the most common "fall chinook". Races are determined by the timing of adult entry into fresh water. They range from San Francisco Bay in California to north of the Bering Strait in Alaska, and the arctic waters of Canada and Russia (the Chukchi Sea, Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands), including the entire Pacific coast in between. Populations occur in Asia as far south as the islands of Japan. Chinook salmon also occur along the coast of Siberia and south to Hokkaido Island, Honshu, Japan, Sea of Japan, Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk. Found in Coppermine River in the Arctic.
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They have 10 - 14 dorsal soft rays, 13 – 19 anal soft rays. Chinook Salmon distinguished by the small black spots on the back and on the upper and lower lobes of the thick caudal fin, and the black mouth and gums of the lower jaw. Coho Salmon look similar except it has a black mouth and white gums. Their body is fusiform, streamlined, noticeably laterally compressed in large adults, fairly deeper than other species. Gill rakers wide-spaced and rough; pelvic fins with axillary process; small eyes. Chinook Salmon characteristics

    The Chinook salmon in the sea are robust, deep-bodied fish with dark greenish to blue black on top of head and back, silvery to white on the lower sides and belly. It has numerous small, irregular dark spots along back and upper sides and on both (upper and lower) lobes of the tail. Chinook salmon also have a black pigment along the gum line which gives them the name black mouth. The spots on the Chinook salmon will generally cover all the head, back, dorsal and adipose fin as well as the squared tail.
Prior to spawning kings turn from silver to a dark red. Near spawning, the flesh turns white to yellowish and is soft textured. The young have 6 to 12 long, wide, well-developed parr marks, that are bisected by the lateral line, and no spots on the dorsal fin.
Chinook Salmon Spawning
    Colors of spawning Chinook salmon in fresh water, with the approach of the breeding condition range from olive brown, red or purplish to copper or almost black, depending on location and degree of maturation. Males are more deeply colored than the females and also are distinguished by their ridgeback condition and by their hooked nose or hooked upper jaw, known as kype. Females retain their body shape and don't change color quite as much. Juveniles in fresh water are recognized by well-developed parr marks which are bisected by the lateral line.
    Chinook salmon are easily the largest of any salmon. Adult fish range in size from 33 to 36 inches (84 to 91 cm), but may be up to 58 inches (1.47 m) in length; they average 10 to 50 lbs (4.54 to 22.7 kg), but may reach 130 lbs (59 kg). The meat is orange-red, although some may have a whitish flesh.

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    Freshwater streams and estuaries provide important habitat for Chinook salmon. They feed on terrestrial and aquatic insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans while young, and primarily on other fish when older. Eggs are laid in deeper water with larger gravel, and need cool water and good water flow (to supply oxygen) to survive. Mortality of chinook salmon in the early life stages is usually high due to natural predation and human induced changes in habitat, such as siltation, high water temperatures, low oxygen conditions, loss of stream cover and reductions in river flow. These impacts are primarily caused by poor forestry practices, dams, and water diversions. Estuaries and their associated wetlands provide vital nursery areas and important feeding and hiding areas for the chinook prior to its departure to the open ocean.
    Juvenile Chinook may spend from 3 months to 2 years in freshwater before migrating to estuarine areas as smolts and then into the ocean to feed and mature. They prefer streams that are deeper and larger than those used by other Pacific salmon species. They feed on land and aquatic insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans such as while young, and primarily on other fish when older. In the ocean they eat herring, sand lance, pilchards, squid, and crustaceans. Chinook that live entirely in freshwater feed on plankton and insects as juveniles, and pelagic freshwater baitfish in the lakes. Alewives and smelt are the primary food items of Chinook salmon.
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    Like all species of Pacific salmon, Chinook salmon are anadromous. They hatch in fresh water, spend part of their life in the ocean, and then spawn in fresh water. All Chinooks die after spawning. They become sexually mature at 2 - 7 years old and females tend to be older than males at maturity. As a result, fish in any spawning run may vary greatly in size. A mature 3-year-old will weigh less than 4 pounds, while a mature 7-year-old may exceed 50 pounds.
Chinook Salmon Spawning
Chinook salmon may spend between 1 to 8 years in the ocean before returning to their home rivers to spawn, but the average is 3 to 4 years. In many spawning runs, males outnumber females in all but the 6- and 7-year age groups. Small Chinooks that mature after spending only one winter in the ocean are commonly referred to as "jacks" and are usually males. Alaska streams normally receive a single run of Chinook salmon in the period from May through July.

    Chinook prefer larger and deeper water to spawn in than other species of salmon and can be found on the spawning redds (nests) from September through to December. After laying eggs in a redd, adult female Chinook will guard the redd from 4 to 25 days before dying, while males look for additional mates. Chinook salmon eggs will hatch, depending upon water temperatures, 90 to 150 days after deposition. Eggs are deposited at a time to ensure that young salmon fry emerge during appropriate time for juvenile survival and growth. Fry and parr (young fish) usually stay in freshwater from 12 to 18 months before travelling downstream to estuaries, where they remain as smolts for several months.
    Each female deposits from 3,000 to 14,000 eggs in several gravel nests, or redds, which she excavates in relatively deep, moving water. Up to 7 redds can be made by a single female before she runs out of eggs. Once the eggs are laid in the redd the female will guard the eggs for 1-3 weeks before she dies. In Alaska, the eggs usually hatch in late winter or early spring, depending on time of spawning and water temperature.
Chinook Salmon Fry The newly hatched fish, called alevins, live in the gravel for several weeks until they gradually absorb the food in the attached yolk sac. These juveniles, called fry, wiggle up through the gravel by early spring. They have dark pigment stripe in the center on their adipose fin on the outer edge. Another black stripe, narrow and flat, is on the back from nape to dorsal fin. Black and white border on the anterior rays of anal fin. Fish less than 50 mm have red lips and more than 15 gill-rays.

Most juvenile remain in fresh water until the following spring when they migrate to the ocean in their second year of life. These seaward migrants are called smolts. Juvenile Chinooks in fresh water feed on plankton, then later eat insects. In the ocean, they eat a variety of organisms including herring, pilchard, sandlance, squid, and crustaceans. Chinook Salmon Fry

Chinook Salmon Fry Salmon grow rapidly in the ocean and often double their weight during a single summer season. Around the middle of June the juveniles have grown to 3 inches and begin changing their colors to bright silver. It is at this stage in the fish’s life that it begins the migration toward its future home, the ocean. By July-September the Chinooks have grown to a length from 6 to 13 inches, their anal fin is without a notch at the throat black band. They have over 16 gill-rays.
At this time they will spend most or their time around the surface in depths of 50 feet or less. By late fall Chinook can be found suspended in depths well over 100 feet and have adapted a diet of almost 100% fish. From this point on the fish will spend their time hunting for nourishment. Chinook salmon do not feed during the freshwater spawning migration, so their condition deteriorates gradually during the spawning run as they use stored body materials for energy and for the development of reproductive products.
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Fishing Methods

    The Chinook salmon is perhaps the most highly prized sport fish in Alaska and is extensively fished by anglers in the Southeast and Cook Inlet areas. Trolling with rigged herring is the favored method of angling in salt water, while lures and salmon eggs are used by freshwater anglers. Chinook salmon rear in inshore marine waters and are available to commercial and sport fishers all year.
    Big Chinook Salmon are a cold water species so look for them in temperatures below 45 degrees. The exception is when they come into spawn. At this point in their life temperature is not important. Keep your baits in 45-degree temperature and you will increase your odds on big fish. If you catch a small fish, it means that the water is too warm for a trophy, better to adjust the tackle to colder water. A temperature gauge is a must tool for a salmon fisherman.
    Clear water and sunny conditions are the enemy. This scenario will turn off most fish. However some fish can be had when certain presentations are used. A stealthy approach is necessary for the biggest fish. In definition stealthy is a presentation that avoids being noticed.
    Several methods are used for salmon trolling. Downriggers are a popular method to run tackle with many variations possible. In sunny conditions increase your downrigger leads to 100 feet or more. By running long leads you work water undisturbed by noise and turbulence of the boat.
    Leadcore is another good choice. A weighted line with a fluorocarbon leader is attached to a planer board. The planer board is run well off to the side of the boat out of the travel path. Leadcore is graduated to allow five feet of depth for every color. Five colors will run lures approximately 25 feet down 10 colors fifty feet and so on. This allows you to fish any depth you want and is a killer for huge kings.
    Chinook live 4.5 years and it makes sense that they will be the biggest at the end of their life cycle. These monsters will be the most aggressive and easiest to get in the months of July through September.
    Kings are big fish. If you hook one from a boat in open salt water, it's fun to play them out. When bank fishing, on a river or stream, this can turn to frustration when the king turns downstream and nothing you can do will stop its run. They are brute force fighters that generally take off on a run when hooked, but will also jump after short runs. The quicker you can gain control of the fish, the better. If its headed upstream, that's ideal. The force of the water will work with you to bring the fish back toward you. The idea when king salmon fishing is to keep trying to work them closer to you, and to tire them out. The shorter the length of line you have out, the more control you have on the fish. You won't be just reeling them in and pulling them up on the bank. A number of the fish you hook will get off for one or another reason.
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