Chinook Salmon: Spring Salmon, Tyee & King Salmon

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Game Fish Species of British Columbia

Chinook Salmon
Chinook Salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha or Spring Salmon, King Salmon, Tyee, Quinnat

DESCRIPTION - The Chinook Salmon species is the largest Pacific salmon usually about 33-36 inches in length and weighing about 30 pounds. Its head is conical with a rather blunt snout, greatly extended, narrowed and turned down at the tip in breeding males. The mouth of these males is greatly deformed with an enlarged lower jaw inabiling it to close its sharp toothed jaws. The coloring of the chinook salmon is an iridescent green to blue-green with gold flecking or sheen, silvery sides and a white belly. Breeding fish are an overall olive-brown to purple color, males darker than females.

DISTRIBUTION - Marine adults occur in the Pacific Ocean and rarely in the Arctic, Bering and Okhotsk seas and the Sea of Japan. Young and spawning tyee can be found in most of the rivers flowing into these water bodies.

BIOLOGY - The chinook salmon migrates as much as 600-1200 miles upriver between July and November. The female digs the redd by lying on her side and thrashing the tail up and down forming a small hole where she lays her 4242-13 619 eggs. She dies within a few days to 2 weeks. This species utilizes about 260 streams in British Columbia, fewer than do other species. The young in fresh water feed on terrestrial insects, Crustacea and adults, mites, spiders and aphids. Young chinook in fresh water are preyed on by rainbow and cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden, coho salmon smolts, squawfish, sculpins, kingfisher and other diving birds.

RELATION TO MAN - The chinook salmon has long since been very important in the native food fishery and in the commercial and sport fisheries if the west coast. The largest commercial catches take place between May-September. They are sold fresh, fresh-frozen or canned. Sport fishermen find these a popular fish due to the potential size and the fight as well as the highly prized flesh.

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Chinook Salmon: Spring Salmon, Tyee & King Salmon