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Chinook Salmon - Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
ChinookChinook salmon may spend between 1 to 8 years in the ocean before returning to their natal streams to spawn, though the average is 3 to 4 years.

Common names: Spring, King salmon or Tyee salmon (over 30lbs), winter salmon and blackmouth.

Range: Chinook salmon range from Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, to Santa Barbara, California. Spawning and rearing chinook are found in most of the rivers in this region, with significant runs in the Columbia River, Rogue River, and Puget Sound.

Habitat and Ecology: Freshwater streams and estuaries provide important habitat for chinook salmon. They feed on terrestrial and aquatic insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans while young, and primarily on other fish when older. Eggs are laid in deeper water with larger gravel, and need cool water and good water flow (to supply oxygen) to survive. Mortality of chinook salmon in the early life stages is usually high due to natural predation and human induced changes in habitat, such as siltation, high water temperatures, low oxygen conditions, loss of stream cover and reductions in river flow. These impacts are primarily caused by poor forestry practices, dams, and water diversions.Estuaries and their associated wetlands provide vital nursery areas for the chinook prior to its departure to the open ocean. Wetlands not only help buffer the estuary from silt and pollutants, but also provide important feeding and hiding areas. The draining and filling of wetlands and the pollution of the estuary from industrial discharges and run-off, negatively impact chinook salmon.

Management:
ChinookFisheries and Oceans Canada manages sockeye, pink, chum, chinook and coho salmon, while the Province of British Columbia is responsible for steelhead and cutthroat. Fisheries and Oceans Canada develops and implements integrated fisheries management plans based on stock assessment advice and consultation with various users of the resource. The department is also responsible for ensuring that all fishing plans meet conservation and Aboriginal fishery obligations. Activities include:

* assessing salmon stock health;
* developing pre-season fishing plans for all fisheries in consultation with fishers and First Nations;
* addressing policy issues related to the development of fishing plans;
* in-season harvest management;
* post-season assessment of management plan delivery;
* developing partnership agreements with industry;
* implementing new fisheries management policies; and
* addressing fisheries management concerns related to the Canada-U.S. Pacific Salmon Treaty.

How can you tell the difference between salmon?

Anglers should use three or more distinguishing characteristics to properly identify all salmon.


Description of chinook salmon in marine phase
Black gums and a silver, spotted tail distinguish the chinook from other salmonids. It has a lightly spotted blue-green back and is the largest, most prized game fish. The chinook lives from three to seven years. It weighs between 1.5 kg and 30 kg. Average-size chinooks are often known as springs in B.C. Those over 13.5 kg are called tyees, and in the U.S., chinook are called king salmon.





Description of chinook salmon in freshwater phase
ChinoockFresh run fish are very similar in appearance to salt water fish - lightly spotted blue-green back, black gums and a silver, spotted tail. As chinook mature, they become very dark in colour - some dark reddish, and others almost black.







Chinook JawChinook Jaw



The chinook has black gums at the base of its teeth and its mouth is dark. In some areas it is known as "black mouth".
Chinook TailChinook Tail

The chinook has a flowing V-shaped, silvery tail that is generally covered with spots. The tail becomes more square as the chinook reaches adult stage.



Photo credits to DFO, used with permission and the AnglingBC gallery.
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