Salmon there is more than one
Salmon is one of the largest fish most traditionally caught and consumed by humans in the northern hemisphere, at least since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the remains of skeletons of large salmon, for example found by prehistorians near prehistoric homes. In Alaska, the fishery is mainly focused on finding Pacific salmon. There are 5 species that are different from Atlantic salmon: Chum, Pink, Sockeye, King and Coho. Only King and Coho are considered by purists as sport fish. But all Pacific salmon offer a good defense and fly fishing for these fish is a real pleasure. Fishing is possible with a one-handed rod, but to clamp large specimens a two-handed rod is more suitable. Whatever your choice, which can vary depending on the course (large river, tributary) you must be in possession of a powerful drag reel filled with 200 meters of backing, beyond that it does not make sense mastery a salmon that is more than 200 meters away is very uncertain especially if the river is winding or if there is a strong current.
At the beginning, do not be difficult, agree to have fun with the Chums who are brawlers and are often empty-handed who allow to test the equipment and the montages. But as soon as you have stung a King, you will immediately feel the difference, and from this moment the slightest error can be fatal (leader too thin, knot badly made, haste, brake improperly adjusted, wig following a racing reel). Quickly locate where to get out of the water backwards and where to ground (or exhaust) the fish. Do not pull too much at the start otherwise the salmon will also pull, it must be bridled without being abrupt.
Types of salmon in Alaska
1. Chum salmon:
What is chum salmon? This Alaska salmon has beautiful teeth, but it owes its name "dog salmon" because it was used to feed the dogs. The number of flies specific to Alaska salmon is innumerable. It is necessary to make choices by focusing on the likely fish at the time of your stay. Some flies are versatile. The main thing is to have several sizes, several colors (pink, fuschia, black, white, chartreuse). The presentation counts more than the color, it is therefore necessary to have light models, slightly leaded, leaded. Do not overfly the flies, it is better to add one to three meters of lead core in 25 lbs, the throw will be easier especially with a two-handed rod.
For those who do not fly fishing, casting with lures (spinning spoon, undulating spoon, swimming fish) is possible provided you have impeccable equipment (powerful rod and powerful drag reel). Attention, the regulations in Alaska are very strict, it is necessary to replace the triple hooks by simple. To explore in depth fishing can be done with a "clown", a kind of propeller that is placed in front of the lure.
2. King salmon alaska or Chinook King Salmon Alaska:
It is the largest, least common of the 5 species of Alaska salmon and one of the best salmon in the world. Its average weight is around 10 to 15kg but the river record is 44kg. At sea, fish over 50kg are quite often caught with a net. The King salmon is the emblem of Alaska. Their late sexual maturity partly explains the exceptional size they can reach. This salmon can reach 1.5m for more than 60kg and a longevity of 9 years. The Chinook is blue-green, purple on the back and the top of the head with silvery sides and a white belly. It has black spots on the tail and the upper half of its body. His mouth is often dark purple in color.
The current record approved for sport fishing is 45kg for a salmon caught in 2002 in the Skeena River (Skeena river, Terrace, British Columbia). For recent years, the world record for certified commercial catch would be 54kg , caught near the Rivers Inlet Fjord in northeast Canada in British Columbia in the 1970s. This species lives from Monterey Bay (northern California) to Bering Strait (Alaska) and into the Arctic waters of Canada and Russia (Chukotka Sea). Populations occur in Asia to the south of the Japanese islands. In Russia, they are found in Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands , but they have disappeared from a large part of their range. At least 40% of the populations have disappeared.
3. Silver salmon or Coho:
Significantly smaller than the king salmon Alaska, the average weight of the catch is around 4kg. The Alaska salmon record is 12kg. After hatching, the silvers spend one to two years in fresh water followed by two years at sea. They then return to reproduce at the place of birth at three or four years of age. During their oceanic phase, coho salmon have silver flanks and a dark blue back. During the spawning period, their jaws and teeth change (hooked beak). Once in fresh water to reproduce, their sides take on a bright red color, while the head and back have blue-green hues (with dark spots on the back), the belly being dark.
At sexual maturity adults develop a pale pink or pink shade along the belly and the back of the male can become slightly arched. The adult measures up to more than 70cm and weighs 3.2 to 5kg with records reaching 16kg). Mature females are often darker than males. Male and female then develop a hook shape of the snout. The eggs hatch in late winter or early spring, after six to seven weeks in the gravel. Once hatched, the fry remain almost immobile on the bottom (6 to 7 weeks) and feeds on its yolk sac; it is therefore very vulnerable to certain pollutants in water and sediment (insecticides in particular). The young coho salmon then spend one to two years in their native freshwater stream, often spending their first winter in swamps outside the channels, before moving on to the smolts stage.
4. Steelhead trout or Steelhead Salmon:
It is one of the most popular Alaska salmon. It reaches 1.15 m. It is distinguished from other salmon by the spots on the tail and on the flanks on either side of the lateral line. The caudal fin is fully spotted, as is the dorsal fin. The anal fin has a few tasks. The inside of the mouth is white. Anadromous like salmon, not all steelheads die after spawning. Some females can lay 3 times. The steelheads enter freshwater in mid-August. They can be fished until the rivers are frozen. The laying takes place in May. Fishing in catch and release (no-kill) is practiced. Fishing for live bait is prohibited after September 1. Steelheads are fished mainly with lures (spoons).
5. Dolly Varden:
Commonly called trout, it is actually a char (Salvelinus malma) which reaches 90cm. Clear dots on a dark back. In fresh water, it can have pale yellow spots on the back and red to orange on the sides. Dolly varden are caught with a salmon egg (imitation) or a small lure. They migrate towards the sea in spring, then they are taken with dry flies imitating shrimp. In the fall they return to the rivers in large numbers. Many are taken by steelhead fishermen.
These four species of salmon are mostly consumed
- The King salmon or Chinook salmon (Chinook salmon) averaged measuring 84-91cm and weighed between 13.5 and 18kg . It is the largest of the salmon. Its back is olive green, its sides and belly are silver, and its lower gums are black. The back, the top of the head and the sides are speckled with black. The flesh color ranges from light pink to dark orange. It is mainly sold fresh, frozen or smoked; it is rarely canned. It is highly sought after smoked.
- The Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is the species most sought after king salmon. It measures on average between 60 and 70cm long, and weighs between 2 and 3kg . Its back is bluish green, its sides and belly silver. Its matt red flesh is firm and very tasty. It retains its beautiful red color even when canned. This rather thin, slender, uniform-sized fish lends itself very well to canning. It is mainly found in this form, but also smoked or salted.
- The Silver salmon or salmon Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) averaged measure between 45 and 60cm and weighing 2 to 4.5kg . Its metallic blue back is decorated with small black spots . Its sides and belly are silver. Silver salmon is the third most important commercial species. Its orange-red flesh is almost equal to that of red salmon or king salmon. It also comes apart in large pieces. It is paler than the flesh of sockeye salmon. Widely used for preserves, silver salmon is also sold fresh, frozen or smoked. It is also sold lightly brined.
- The Pink salmon ( Oncorhynchus gorbuscha ) is the smallest of the genus. It reaches maturity very early (two years). It measures on average between 43 and 48cm and weighs between 1.3 and 2.3kg . Its bluish green back is dotted with large black spots; its sides are silver. Pink salmon has long been considered a lower quality species (like keta) because its pink flesh is rather soft and breaks up into small pieces. It is mainly canned, but is also sold fresh, smoked or frozen.