the five species

The five species of Wild BC salmon all share a similar outward appearance, but offer a marked distinction in flesh colour.

Download our BC Wild Salmon Identification Chart here.


 
 

Chinook

  • Latin Name: Oncorhynchus tschawytscha
  • Other Common Names: Spring, King, Tyee
  • Average Commercial Weight: 9 kg (20 lbs)
  • Average Commercial Size: 56 cm – 81 cm (22 inches – 32 inches)
  • Life Cycle: 4 – 7 years
  • Migration: Chinook migrate upstream from the spring through the fall as far as 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) inland. Chinook fry may go to sea soon after hatching, or after one to two years in fresh water. 
  • Outer Appearance
    Small eyes
    Black gums
    Small round spots on its back, dorsal fin and tail
    Thick caudal
    13 – 19 anal rays
  • Flesh Colour: Deep-red to ivory colour lightens slightly when cooked
  • Flavour: Rich and full

  • Texture: Moderately firm with larger flakes Flesh
     

  • Suggested Cooking Methods:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Grill
  • Poach
chinook_spring_web.jpg

Coho

  • Latin Name: Oncorhynchus kisutch
  • Other Common Names: Silver, Medium-red (when canned)
  • Average Commercial Weight: 2 kg – 5.5 kg (4 lbs – 12 lbs)
  • Average Commercial Size: 56 cm – 66 cm (22 inches - 26 inches)
  • Life Cycle: 3 years
  • Migration: Adult coho usually return to fresh water between late summer and early fall. Most choose streams close to the ocean, although some will journey as far as 1,500 kilometres (932 miles) inland. Young coho fry are different than the other salmon species as they stay in their spawning stream for a full year after they emerge from the gravel. 
  • Outer Appearance
    White gums
    Spots above lateral line and on upper lobe
    Thick caudal
    Silver colour adjacent to caudal
  • Flesh Colour: Vibrant reddish-orange colour is maintained when cooked
  • Flavour: Moderately full and versatile

  • Texture: Firm and fine textured
     

  • Suggested Cooking Methods:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Sauté
coho_web.jpg

Chum (Keta)

  • Latin Name: Oncorhynchus keta
  • Other Common Names: Silver-bright, Keta (when canned)
  • Average Commercial Weight: 3.5 kg (8 lbs)
  • Average Commercial Size: 56 cm – 66 cm (22 inches – 26 inches)
  • Life Cycle: 3 – 5 years
  • Migration: Chum salmon generally spawn in late fall and usually in the lower tributaries along the coast, rarely more than 150 kilometres (93 miles) inland. Fry emerge in the spring and go directly to sea. 
  • Outer Appearance
    Dark metallic blue-green back with silver sides and belly
    Develop dark vertical bars called watermarks on their sides as they mature and migrate to fresh water
    Large pupil
    Large mouth with maxillary extending behind the eye
    No spots on the back, dorsal fin or tail
    Narrow caudal
    13 – 17 anal rays
  • Flesh Colour: Reddish-pink. Becomes paler as fish migrates upstream 
  • Flavour: Milder and more delicate

  • Texture: Firm and can be drier

    Suggested Cooking Methods:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Sauté
  • Steam
chum_web.jpg

Pink

  • Latin Name: Oncorhynchus gorbusha
  • Other Common Names: Humpback, Humpie
  • Average Commercial Weight: 2 kg (4 lbs)
  • Average Commercial Size: 35 cm – 46 cm (14 inches – 18 inches)
  • Life Cycle: 2 years
  • Migration: Pink salmon fry migrate to the sea as soon as they emerge from the gravel and live almost their entire two years in ocean feeding areas. Adults leave the ocean in the late summer and early fall and usually spawn in streams, not fed by lakes, that are a short distance from the sea. 
  • Outer Appearance
    Shiny silvery skin
    Large black oval spots on the back and tail
    Develop a hump on their back when spawning
    Very small scales
    13 – 17 anal rays
  • Flesh Colour:  Light rose-pink colour lightens slightly when cooked
  • Flavour: Mild and delicate

  • Texture: Softer
     

  • Suggested Cooking Methods:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Poach
pink_web.jpg

Sockeye

  • Latin Name: Oncorhynchus nerka
  • Other Common Names: Red Salmon (when canned)
  • Average Commercial Weight: 2.7 kg (6 lbs)
  • Average Commercial Size: 51 cm – 61 cm (20 inches – 24 inches)
  • Life Cycle: 5 years
  • Migration: Sockeye spawn in streams with lakes in their watershed and stay in those lakes for one to three years before migrating to sea. They move rapidly out of the estuaries and thousands of miles into the Gulf of Alaska and North Pacific Ocean where they feed. They return to their spawning stream when they are three to, at times, even six years old. 
  • Outer Appearance
    Small black speckles on its deep blue-green back and silver sides
    No spots on the tail
    Slender and firm body
    Develop a bright red body and green head when spawning
    Large and distinct scales
    13 – 18 anal rays
  • Flesh Colour: Deep red to orange red colour is maintained when cooked
  • Flavour: Rich and full

  • Texture: Firm with tighter flakes
     

    Suggested Cooking Methods:

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Grill
  • Poach
sockeye_web.jpg