Alaska Salmon Identification & Information

While salmon fishing in Alaska it’s important to be able to identify which species of salmon has been caught. Accurate salmon identification is important because Alaska’s Salmon intermingle in the rivers. Each has a different daily bag limit and different regulations. You definitely don’t want to be the angler walking home carrying an illegal trout when you thought you caught a salmon. Whether you are king salmon fishingsilver salmon fishingsockeye salmon fishing or trout fishing, you need to be able to accurately identify the fish.

Five types of salmon can be found in Alaska’s waters. Many of them have similar features. Spawning salmon go through dramatic physical changes. Depending upon how long the salmon has been in the river determines how far along these physical changes may be. 

The similar features and physical changes during spawning can create challenges in identifying the species. For this reason, there are a number of published identification guidelines to help identify both spawning and non-spawning salmon.

Each Salmon Has Unique Physical Characteristics

Each species of salmon has unique and interesting characteristics. King salmon are known for their legendary size and good table fare but have much fewer numbers.This makes each catch an extremely valuable and rewarding experience.  King salmon are the least abundant of all the salmon species.  

Silver salmon are the 4th most abundant species with averages in the 12-15 pound range but can get as large as 30 lbs.  75% of the United States’ consumption of Coho salmon comes from Alaska.

Sockeye salmon are the 3rd most abundant species and can weigh up to 15 pounds. This salmon is largely considered the premium table fare salmon due to its deep red coloring and firm texture.

Pink Salmon are the most abundant salmon with millions migrating up the Alaskan rivers. These salmon are very aggressive and will pretty much strike at anything put in front of them. Weighing an average of 4-5 lbs Pink salmon create great action for first-timers and young anglers because it’s almost impossible not to catch dozens of them in any given day.

Chum Salmon are the 2nd most abundant species and 2nd only to the King salmon in size. The average weight of Chum Salmon are 8-15 pounds but can get as large as 45 pounds.