Alaska offers shots at five species of salmon, all with silvery sides except when they ascend rivers to spawn and grow darker. CHINOOK SALMON
Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, aka king salmon, can reach 60 pounds or more. Chinook are considered the most prized salmon sport fish by most anglers. The IGFA all-tackle record weighed 97 pounds, 4 ounces, caught in Alaska’s Kenai River. Killer whales, bears and seals also target the salmon for meals, so watch over your shoulder when fishing.
Oncorhynchus kisutch, aka silver salmon, are widely distributed and grow to 20 pounds. Jerry Lifton’s record catch in New York’s Salmon River weighed 33 pounds, 4 ounces. Coho are also available in cold-water landlocked lakes, such as the Great Lakes, after successful transplantations that began in the 1960s.
Oncorhynchus nerka, aka red salmon, possess oily flesh and generally run 6 to 15 pounds. Sockeye turn an obvious red color during reproduction, but die off after spawning just once. Stan Roach landed the IGFA record, weighing 15 pounds, 3 ounces, caught in the Kenai River.
Oncorhynchus keta, aka dog salmon, average 8 pounds but can reach up to 40. Considered the least flavorful of the salmon, chum turn from a silvery blue-green to a dark olive green when entering fresh waters. Spawning male chum salmon develop canine teeth to fend off other males. The current IGFA record holds strong at 35 pounds, caught in British Columbia in July 1995.
Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, aka humpback salmon, seldom exceed 5 pounds, and develop a hump after they enter rivers. Humpies are the smallest and most abundant Pacific salmon. The all-tackle record was caught in Monroe, Washington, weighing 14 pounds, 13 ounces.