king salmon

King Salmon
King Salmon
silver salmon
Silver Salmon
Kenai River sockeye salmon fishing
Sockeye Salmon
Pink Salmon
Pink Salmon

Below is some detailed descriptions of how to identify pacific Salmon courtesy of Alaska department of fish and game.

Pacific Salmon Marine Phase Identification

Please note, when salmon enter fresh water they undergo significant physical changes including changes in coloration. This chart is intended to help anglers identify salmon by species. However, it is the angler’s responsibility to be able to positively identify the spePcieas act iafnyicpoinSt ian iltms lifeocyncle.ID – Marine Phase

Chinook (king)

  • Mouth is dark with a black

    gum line

  • Large, sharp teeth
  • Spots on both lobes of tail
  • Large spots on back

    Coho (silver)

  • Mouth is light with a white

    gum line

  • Medium size, sharp teeth
  • Spots only on upper lobe

    of tail

  • Spots on back
  • Wide caudal peduncle

    Pink (humpy)

    • Mouth is white with a black

      gum line.

    • In marine areas, almost no


    • Large oval spots on both

      lobes of tail

    • Large black spots on back
    • Pointed lower jaw
    • No silver on tail
    • Very small scales

      Chum (dog)

    • Mouth is white with a

      white gum line

    • Well developed teeth
    • No spots on tail or back
    • Calico markings (vertical

      bars) – faint on bright fish

    • Narrow caudal peduncle
    • White tip on anal fin

      Sockeye (red)

  • Mouth is white with a

    white gum line

  • Almost toothless
  • No spots on tail or back
  • Large, bright gold, glassy


Jaw – The chinook has a dark mouth and black gums at the base of its teeth. Immature chinook are known as a “blackmouth”

Tail – Both the upper and lower lobes of the tail are covered with spots and silver is prominent.

Jaw – The mouth is white and the gum line is almost white, but the tongue may be black. The teeth are sharp and strong.

Tail – The coho tail has just a few scattered spots, usually on the upper lobe, with silver streaks. It has a wide caudal peduncle.

Jaw – The mouth of a pink is white, but the gums and tongue are black, as they are in a chinook. It does not have “teeth” on its tongue.

Tail – The pink salmon tail is covered with large oval spots. It does not have silver on the tail. The scales are very small compared to other salmon of the same size.

Jaw – The mouth is white and the gum line is white, but the tongue may be black. The lips are fleshy with well developed teeth in both jaws, but there are no teeth on the base of the tongue.

Tail – The tail has no spots, but does have silver streaks covering about half of the fin. The caudal peduncle is narrow.

Jaw – The mouth is white and the gum line is white. The lips are fleshy. The teeth are small and well developed in both jaws. There are no teeth on the base of the tongue.

Tail – There are no spots on the tail.

Salmon Anatomy

Lateral Line Nostril

Pectoral Fin

Dorsal Fin

Adipose Fin

Caudal Fin (Tail)

Anal Fin Pelvic Fin

Characteristics of Salmon during the Spawning Phase

Silver or Coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch)

Red or Sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Pink (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)

King or Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

Chum (Oncorhynchus keta)

These opportunities funded in part by Federal Aid in Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game administers all programs and activities free from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, or disability. The department administers all programs and activities in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility, or if you desire further information please write to ADF&G, P.O. Box 115526, Juneau, AK 99811-5526; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 300 Webb, Arlington, VA 22203; or O.E.O., U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington DC 20240. For information on alternative formats for this and other department publications, please contact the department ADA Coordinator at (voice) 907-465-6077, (TDD) 907-465-3646, or (FAX) 907-465-6078.

How to measure your fish

The length of a fish means the distance measured from the tip of the snout (nose) to the tip of the tail (total length).

King Salmon Annual/Seasonal Limits

A total annual limit of 5 king salmon 20” or longer may be taken from fresh waters of Cook Inlet north of the latitude of Point Adam, and from Cook Inlet salt waters – except that king salmon harvested in Cook Inlet salt waters south of Anchor Point Light from October 1 through March 31, and king salmon longer than 20” but less than 28” harvested in the Kenai River from January 1 through June 30 are not included in the limit.

Of these 5 total king salmon:

• No more than 2 may be taken from the Kenai River
• No more than 2 may be taken from Deep Creek and Anchor River combined.

A king salmon 20” or longer that is removed from salt or fresh water must be retained and becomes part of the bag limit

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