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We have 5 types of Pacific salmon in Ketchikan: King, Silver, Pink, Chum, & Sockeye.

Ketchikan Alaska’s Salmon Species

Ketchikan is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” We have five species of salmon, each of which have unique behaviors and pass through during specific seasons. A knowledgeable captain with a laser focus to detail is imperative for success on the water. There are numerous factors which must constantly be observed and updated to perfect the “art of the catch.”

Depending on the season, Captain Jos will help you target the right species for optimal success.

Salmon Identification


Identifying Characteristics: – Black gum line – Tail is typically bright silver with dark spots – Small irregular shaped black spots on back, dorsal fin, and both lobes of tail – Weight – up to 100 lbs

Limits on king salmon vary from year to year. Your captain will be up to date with the current guidelines

A Chinook must be at least 28 inches to keep.


Identifying Characteristics: – White gum line – Tail has spots on upper lobe only – Usually has spotting on back and dorsal fin – Weight – up to 25 lbs

Limit: Resident & non-resident – 6 per day


Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbusha) are the most common Pacific salmon. They have very light colored and flavored flesh and a low-fat content. Pink salmon are often canned but also sold fresh, frozen, and smoked. They are sometimes called “humpies” or humpback salmon because of the distinctive hump they develop on their back when they spawn.

Identifying Characteristics: – Large spots on back and large black oval blotches on both tail lobes – Very small scales – Smallest salmon species in Alaska – Tail has good V shape to it – Weight – up to 8 lbs – up to 24 inches

Limit: Resident & non-resident – 6 per day


C – Chum/Dog Silverbrite Salmon/Chum Salmon/Keta Salmon/Dog Salmon

Chum (Oncorhynchus keta) is also called dog salmon for its dog-like teeth. Keta comes from its species name and is a way to get away from the negative association chum sometimes has. Keta is a smaller fish – averaging about 8 pounds – with pale to medium-colored flesh and a lower fat content than other salmon. Chum is usually canned or sold frozen to foreign markets.

Prime season is from late June through late September. Like all salmon the appearance of Chum is highly correlated to the time of year they are caught. In early Summer Chum are bright and beautiful fish. Early in the year they can easily be confused for a King if you do not know the tell tale signs. Chums can be discerned by the vertical markings and patterns. Chum are pretty thick and hearty fish. We commonly catch chum between 6-20lbs.

Identifying Characteristics: – No distinctive spots on back or tail – Large eye pupil covers nearly the entire eye – Tail may have silver streaks throughout – Vertical bars or faint outlines on side (tiger stripes) – Weight – 6 to 20 lbs or more – up to 18 inches

Limit: Resident & non-resident – 6 per day


R – Red/Sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) salmon are noted for their bright red-orange flesh and deep rich flavor. They are known as “reds” both for their dark flesh color and because they turn deep red (from the bright silver pictured here, which is how you’ll see them at markets since the commercial catch is caught at sea) as they move upstream to spawn.

Identifying Characteristics: – No spots on body – Tail has no silver color or spots – May have fang-like teeth at tips of jaw – Long slender gill rakers – Weight – 4 to 8 lbs – up to 28 inches

Limit: Resident & non-resident – 6 per day


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