King Salmon may spend between 1 to 5 years in the ocean before returning to their native streams to spawn, though the average is 3 to 4 years. The King Salmon is blue-green on the back and top of the head with silvery sides and white bellies, black spots on the upper half of its body with gray/black mouth coloration. King Salmon reach up to 60 inches in length and weigh up to 70 pounds, although King Salmon is generally up to 36 inches in length and weigh up to 30 pounds.
Silver Salmon are found in coastal waters from Alaska to northern California. Silvers are extremely adaptable and are found in nearly all accessible bodies of fresh water, from large trans-boundary watersheds to small tributaries.
Sockeye Salmon, unlike the other species of Pacific Salmon, feed almost exclusively on plankton. They are able to do this as a result of their many gill rakers, which strain the plankton from the water. It is speculated that this diet is the reason for the striking hue of their flesh. They also tend to feed on small aquatic organisms such as shrimp.
Chum Salmon spawn in the lowermost reaches of rivers and streams, typically within 100 km of the ocean. Chum Salmon are found from Alaska to Oregon and can range from 12-20 lbs. They have unique calliquo markings that are fun fish to catch.
In the ocean, pink salmon are bright silver fish. After returning to their spawning stream, their coloring changes to pale grey on the butt with yellowish white belly. As with all salmon, in addition to their dorsal fin they also have an adipose fin. During their spawning migration, males develop a pronounced humped back, hence their nickname “humpies”.
The Rainbow Trout in Alaska’s rivers are native born. These Trout provide the ultimate fly fishing adventure. I highly recommend a 6-weight fly rod while fishing for the Rainbow. The pure strength these fish have is something to marvel. It is possible to land an 8-10 pound Rainbow on our guided fishing trip.
Arctic Grayling & Dolly Varden
Arctic Grayling: The Arctic grayling is an elegantly formed cousin of the trout. With its sail-like dorsal fin dotted with large iridescent red or purple spots, the grayling is one of the most unusual and beautiful fish of Alaska. Grayling are generally dark on the back and have iridescent gray sides. They have varying numbers of black spots scattered along the anterior portion of both sides. The adipose, caudal (tail), pectoral, and anal fins are dusky brown and the pelvic fins are often marked with pink to orange stripes.
Dolly Varden: Young Dolly Varden have about eight to ten wide, dark parr marks or oval blotches which contrast with the mottled olive-brown color of their body. The sea-run fish are silvery with an olive-green to brown color on the dorsal surface and numerous red to orange spots on their sides. The mature males become brilliant red on the lower body surface, and the lower fins become reddish-black with white along the leading edges. Mature females are similar but are less brightly colored. Males develop an extended lower jaw which hooks upward, fitting into a groove which is formed in the upper jaw. A hook also forms in the females but is considerably less developed.
Dolly Varden belong to a group of fish called char. The light spots on their sides distinguish them from most trout and salmon which are usually black spotted or speckled.