Chinook salmon, nicknamed king salmon, is a prized and valuable species of Pacific salmon in North America. They are also massive and a favorite among anglers. The fishing industry for large king salon is big and includes wild capture and aquaculture with countless fisheries. King salmon are on a lot of people’s bucket lists to catch in the wild because of how difficult they are. Are you ready to discover the largest king salmon ever caught in Alaska? It’s also the largest king salmon caught in the entire world!
About King Salmon
King salmon are native to the North Pacific Ocean and the river systems of western North America. They are quick travelers, constantly swimming long distances to new bodies of water. For example, you can find them from California to Alaska. Other than North America, king salmon also swim through Asian rivers, including Japan and Siberia. While they have been introduced to other parts of the world, like New Zealand, they aren’t native.
Size and Appearance
King salmon are colorful and shiny fish. Some of these fish have blue-green, red, or purple coloration on the back and top of the head. They also have black spots and markings on their tail. King salmon are unique because they have black and silvery marks also on the upper half of their bodies. Interestingly, the meat inside their bodies ranges in color depending on what they eat. Some king salmon are pink, while others are white.
Although these fish are very beautiful and shiny, what’s most impressive about them is their large size. King salmon are about 24 to 36 inches long. Not only are they long, but they can also weigh up to 126 pounds. However, the average weight for a wild-caught king salmon is 10 to 50 pounds.
King salmon are carnivorous fish, but their diet depends on where they live. Some king salmon spend most of their lives in the ocean, while others prefer freshwater rivers. King salmon are born in freshwater but migrate to the ocean as they mature. Adult king salmon consume shrimp, small squids, pilchards, herring, and other small fish. Young king salmon consume plankton, insect larvae, insects, and crabs.
King salmon have many predators, but their population is stable. The most common predators that also live in water include seals, sea lions, whales, and sharks. However, some large mammals that live outside of water, like grizzly bears, also hunt for king salmon when available. This is more common in North American rivers. Young king salmon are a lot smaller. The biggest predator that hunts for juvenile king salmon is bass.
The Largest King Salmon Ever Caught in Alaska (And Other Amazing Records!)
Fun fact, the largest king salmon ever caught in Alaska is also the largest king salmon caught in the world! This large and impressive fish was caught in a fish trap near Petersburg, Alaska, in 1949, weighing a whopping 126 pounds! While this is the largest king salmon ever caught, other impressive records exist. For example, California Department of Fish and Game biologists found a Chinook carcass in Battle Creek. The carcass was 51 inches long and weighed 88 pounds dead, which means it could have easily been 100 pounds alive!
The current IGFA all-tackle record, Chinook, is another impressive catch. In the Kenai River in May 1985, Les Anderson caught this massive 97 pounds, 4-ounce king salmon. It wasn’t weighed for hours after it was caught, which could mean this catch was over 100 pounds.
Fishing in Alaska (And Other Animals)
Alaska is a very popular state to fish in because of its diverse fish and wildlife population. Alaska is especially known for its king salmon, which is probably why the world record king salmon was caught there! Alaska has freshwater and saltwater fish. The most common freshwater fish include Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout. Rainbow trout are the second most popular fish in the state for anglers. People come from all over the world to catch a massive rainbow trout or king salmon! Dolly Varden is another impressive lake trout. You can find this fish in cold Alaska lakes and streams.
There are other types of salmon readily available when fishing. The coho salmon (silver salmon) and the sockeye salmon are two other common types. The silver salmon weighs up to 15 pounds and has a unique silvery shine. Another name for sockeye salmon is red salmon. As the name suggests, it has bright red flesh and is slimmer than other salmon.
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