It’s no secret that fishing in British Columbia is a bucket-list must. Teeming with trout, sturgeon, whitefish, pike, bass, and more, the waters in and around the coast and its many islands offer some of the best fishing in the world.
But while people come from all around to cast a line for a variety of species, there’s one, in particular, that is a dream-catch for most visiting anglers; salmon. If it’s your first time in the region or you’re new to fishing, you might not realize that the area is home to not one, but five different species of salmon. Keep reading to learn what they are, and what you need to know about each of these unique species.
The largest of the Pacific salmon, Chinook Salmon can reach some unbelievable sizes. They’ve been known to grow up to 4.9 feet in length and weigh nearly 130 pounds. The average size is a bit smaller, at 3 feet in length and 30 pounds total.
Chinook, sometimes called “King” or “Spring” salmon, are a popular catch, not only because they are large and offer a challenge to anglers, but also because it tastes great when smoked or grilled.
Like most salmon species, Chinook are hatched in freshwater, in streams and rivers. They then migrate to the ocean where they spend several years feeding and growing. They return to the stream or river where they first hatched to spawn. Chinook start out feeding on insects and crustaceans before moving on to small fish when they reach adult size. Plenty of large aquatic creatures, including Orcas, sea lions, and sharks, dine on Chinook.
After reeling in a 30 pound Chinook, it might be tough to believe that Pink salmon are even the same species. But don’t let their small size fool you; they are an easier catch that’s just as tasty on the dinner table.
Pink salmon are the smallest of the five Pacific salmon species, typically weighing just 4 to 7 pounds when fully grown, though they can occasionally reach up to 12 pounds. As the name suggests, their sides are a light pink color. The males have humped backs as well as a v-shaped fin and large oval-shaped black spots on their backs.
Sockeye salmon is another of the smaller Pacific salmon species. They average between 24 inches and 33 inches in length, weighing between 5 and 15 pounds.
Sockeye are perhaps best known for their bright red color, which they get when they return to the river where they were born to spawn. Their bodies turn a reddish-orange color, while their heads turn green. Males that are of breeding age also develop a humped back and distinctive hooked jaws with small, sharp teeth that are easy to spot.
Also known as the “Dog” salmon, Chum are the second-largest Pacific salmon species. With a dark horizontal stripe on each side of their bodies, Chum are easy to spot. They can grow to 20 inches or longer and weigh between 10 and 30 pounds.
Unlike other species of Pacific salmon, Chum doesn’t stay in freshwater for very long. They also require a heavier rod than smaller salmon species, as they can be tough to reel in. Chum, like Pink salmon, are abundant, but they aren’t as prized for eating as other salmon. Poach or steam them to enhance their natural texture and bring out a better taste versus grilling or baking.
The final Pacific salmon species is the Coho, also sometimes known as “silvers” or “bluebacks.” While they fall in the middle size-wise, Coho are the most common salmon species found in the Pacific. They average 20 to 24 inches in length and reach weights of between 25 and 30 pounds. Unlike other species that change color frequently, Coho stay mostly chrome-colored throughout their lives.
Coho are popular among sport fishermen because they can be tricky to catch. They’re known to be aggressive and acrobatic when you’re reeling them in, which means you’ll need experience–or, of course, an experienced guide on a chartered fishing trip!
Planning Your Next Salmon Fishing Trip to Sointula
Whether you’re dreaming of battling a record Chinook or eager to catch your very first Sockeye salmon, there’s no better place to go than the waters of British Columbia; and more specifically Sointula.
Our island is the perfect base camp for your fishing vacation. Besides our location on the Inside Passage, where all five species of Pacific salmon can be found, you’ll also find professional fishing charters that can help first-time casters and experienced fishermen alike.
At the luxurious Sointula Lodge, you can book 4 and 5-day fishing excursions with expert guides who will help you reel in a variety of salmon, halibut, and other species. If you’re ready to cast a line in search of one of these incredible — and delicious — salmon species, start planning your next fishing trip today!