Salmon species

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2007

Kenai Peninsula waters offer four species of salmon: chinook (king), coho (silver), sockeye (red), and humpback (pink). All are excellent table fare.

In saltwater and in the deep, swift waters of the Kenai River, most kings are caught from boats. In smaller streams, and at the Homer Spit fishing lagoon, kings can be taken from shore. Other salmon are caught from both boat and shore.

Kings, though the smallest in returning numbers, are the largest in size, averaging 18 pounds. They are found in peninsula marine waters year-round. Kings on their spawning runs are in the Deep Creek marine fishery from early May to early August, and in the Anchor and Ninilchik rivers and Deep Creek from late May to early June. From mid-May through July, kings are in the Kasilof and Kenai rivers.

Silvers average about 10 pounds. They start showing up in the marine fisheries in mid July, and in peninsula streams by late July. With the exception of the Kenai River, where silvers are still present through October, most runs end about mid-September.

Reds weigh about 6 pounds, on average. Most are caught at the Russian, Kenai and Kasilof rivers. Early runs usually reach the Russian and Kasilof rivers by mid-June. By mid-July, late runs are returning to the Kenai and Russian rivers, where they are available well into August.

Pinks, the largest in number, are the smallest in size, averaging about 4 pounds. In peninsula waters, runs are strongest in “even” years — 2008, 2010, etc. Pinks bite eagerly, and are many an angler’s “first salmon.”

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