Silver Salmon

Order Salmoniformes

Trouts and Salmon—Family Salmonidae

Adult male — Picture courtesy of NOAA

Species: Oncorhynchus kisutch (Walbaum, 1792); from the Greek roots onkos (hook), rhynchos (nose), and kisutch (the vernacular name for the species in Alaska and Kamchatka, USSR).

Alternate Names: Coho salmon, silversides, hooknose, hookbill, blueback (young salmon), jack salmon, tschaviche, showitz, quisutsch, and bielaya ryba. Called salmón plateado in Mexico. The English name coho appeared as early as 1878 as co-hu and presumably descended from such similar Indian dialect names as kwahwult (Chilliwack and Musqueam) and kúchuks (Sooke and Saanich). [Pacific Fishes of Canada, J. L. Hart]

Identification: Body elongate, mouth terminal, large, and needlelike teeth. They have irregular black spots on the back and on the upper part of caudal fin; gums are white at base of teeth. Their coloring is metallic blue above and silvery on sides. However, when spawing in freshwater their color changes. Males become dusky or bright green on their upper back and head, bright red on sides, and generally blackish below. The females are less bright—bronze to pinkish red on the sides.

Adult breeding male — Picture courtesy of NOAA

Size: To 38 1/2 inches and 31 pounds. Most taken from piers are under eight pounds.

Range: From Punta Chamalu Bay (or Bahia Camalu), northern Baja California, to Point Hope, Chukchi Sea, Alaska with strays to Prudhoe Bay, Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Along the Pacific Asian coast from the Anadyr River, Russia to northern Korea and northern Honshu Island, Japan.

Habitat: Spends time in both fresh water and salt water. Tends to be near the surface of the water.

Silver Salmon from the Pacifica Pier, 1970s

Piers: Relatively few silver salmon are taken from piers compared to king salmon. Nevertheless, a few are hooked each year north of Monterey Bay. Best bets: Pacifica Pier, Point Arena Pier, Trinidad Pier, and the B Street Pier in Crescent City.

Shoreline: Genereally not taken by shore anglers in ocean areas but caught by anglers in streams and rivers; illegal to keep.

Boats: Once a major goal of boaters but now illegal to keep.

Silver Salmon taken near the surfline at the Capitola Wharf

Bait and Tackle: None since they are illegal.

Food Value: None since they are illegal.

Silver Salmon from the B Street Pier in Crescent City

Comments: A favorite salmon due to its aerial acrobatics. It is now illegal to keep silver salmon in California. Handle with care and return them to the water.

Silver Salmon from the B Street Pier in Crescent City

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