If you are new to fishing or the Pacific Northwest, you may be wondering, what are the types of Pacific salmon? What are their behaviors? Where do Pacific salmon migrate to and from? All you need to know is answered below!

Pacific Salmon Habitats and Behaviors

As you may know, Pacific salmon begin their lives in freshwater lakes, rivers, and stream habitats, making them what is called anadromous (fish that travel up to a fresh water source like a river from the sea to spawn). Eventually, they migrate to the North Pacific Ocean to feed for several years. Pacific salmon are referred to as smolts when they reach the age of ocean migration. Pacific salmon can be found along the west coast of North America, stretching as far as Alaska to California. Popular freshwater habitats are found commonly around Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, and even Idaho.

Once salmon become smolts, they travel to saltwater before they spend one to seven years (depending on the type of Pacific salmon) maturing and then spawn. Pacific salmon migrate and travel in schools; with some research suggesting they make migration decisions as a group. And as a result of the demanding journey back to spawn, Pacific salmon die after spawning – fertilizing the growing grounds. A female salmon can lay as many as 2,500 to 7,000 eggs in what is called a redd (nest) which is a shallow depression in the stream bottom. The male salmon will come along and fertilize the eggs and protect the redd by pushing gravel over the eggs.

Types of Pacific Salmon

If you have lived in the Pacific Northwest for any time, you are likely familiar with the different types of salmon we see in this region. There are Chinook (King) salmon, Sockeye (Red) salmon, Coho (Silver) salmon, Pink (Humpback) salmon, and Chum (Dog) salmon. And If you have lived in the Pacific Northwest for any time, at the very least you are familiar with King and Silver salmon as you have likely seen it served in local restaurants.

Graphics below show wild salmon in their adult phase, before the kelt (spawning) phase. Wild salmon can be identified by the adipose fin (small fin near the tail). Hatchery fish will have the adipose fin clipped so that anglers and wildlife agents know which fish are wild and which are hatchery fish.

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