Also known as: King, Blackmouth, Quinnat, Spring, Tyee (salmon)

Alaska’s state fish, Chinook or King are the largest and most prized of all the Pacific salmon. They have an incredible variety of spawning colours, from soft greyish pink to bright scarlet, or beautiful combinations of green or orange with red. However, they always bear these prominent irregular spots all across their back, dorsal fin and tail. At sea their tail is a beautiful silver, making the spots stand out even more. They spend 1-5 years in freshwater as fry (though there are ‘ocean-type’ Chinooks which head straight for salt water) and then a further 1-8 years growing out at sea. The longer they stay out before returning to spawn, the bigger they get – truly big, old fellows can grow well past 55 inches (140 cm) and weigh over 125 pounds (55 kg). 30-40 inch (75-100 cm) is a more usual size though. Especially bigger fish have huge faces with small eyes, giving them a rather imposing, angry look.

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) – spawning phase