Of the six species of Pacific salmon only five are common to the waters of North America. After birth in fresh water, all salmon species migrate to the sea for 2 to 5 years, before returning to their natal waters to spawn, and die.
King Salmon/Chinook Salmon/Spring Salmon
Perhaps the most coveted of the Pacific salmon, the king salmon is the largest of all the salmon species. Also known as Chinook, kings are the least plentiful of all the Pacific salmon species. Reaching weights of over 100 pounds, Chinook spend 2 to 3 years at sea, before returning to fresh water.
Silver Salmon/Coho Salmon
Also referred to as Coho, silver salmon are named for their distinctive silver colorings. One of the top sport fishes in the world, silver salmon spend only 1 1/2 years at sea, growing to weights of 20 pounds, before returning to freshwater to spawn.
Chum Salmon/Dog Salmon
Having a silvery blue-green color when at sea, chum salmon, also called dog salmon, are considered the least desirable of all Pacific salmon. Living to 5 to 7 years of age, dog salmon typically grow to weights rivaling silver salmon and are often caught in abundance by Alaskan subsistence fisherman.
Pink Salmon/Humpies/Humpback Salmon
The smallest of the Pacific salmon, the pink salmon’s average weight reaches only 3 to 5 pounds, with the largest one on record at 15 pounds. Even though they are small, in comparison to other salmon species, pink salmon make up over 50 percent of the annual commercial salmon catch. Also known as the humpback for their distinctive arched back, pink salmon have a short 2-year life cycle and rarely travel further than 150 miles from the mouth of their native waters.
Sockeye Salmon/Red Salmon
Making up almost a quarter of the world’s commercial salmon harvest, sockeye salmon reach weights averaging 10 to 15 pounds. Sockeyes are also known as red salmon, from the native Salish language meaning “red fish.” Red salmon can reach weights of up to 15 pounds and live for 3 to 5 years in the wild.
Having a limited range along the Asian coast, the cherry salmon is the rarest of the Pacific salmon. Cherry salmon live for 2 to 3 1/2 years and average 5 to 6 pounds. Also known as the masu salmon in Asia, cherry salmon are heavily fished in the waters they inhabit, both for sport and commercially.