The Chinook Salmon is the largest and most prized gamefish of the salmon family. They leave their natal streams and spend 3 to 6 years in the North Pacific, many ranging thousands of miles away from where they were hatched. When ready to return to their spawning grounds at maturity, they can weigh from 30 to more than 90 pounds.
The Chinook is distinguished by its lightly spotted blue-green back and a silver tail dotted with round or oval black spots. In BC the Chinook is often referred to as a Spring salmon while American anglers like to call them Kings. Those over 30 pounds are called Tyees.
The Chinook has black gums at the base of its teeth and its mouth is dark. In some areas it's known as "Blackmouth." The tail is generally silver covered with black spots but we do occasionally find them with very silver tails, rimmed with black and with very few spots.
They run from the middle of August, through late September.
Sockeye are highly acclaimed as a sushi-grade delicacy and are caught more commonly during June and July in Barkley Sound and The Port Alberni Canal.
The name sockeye comes from a poor attempt to translate the word suk-kegh from British Columbia's native Coast Salish language. Suk-kegh means red fish.
The sockeye, is among the smaller of the seven Pacific salmon species, but their succulent, bright-orange meat is prized above all others. They range in size from 24 to 33 inches in length and weigh between 5 and 15 pounds.
Sea-going sockeyes have silver flanks with black speckles and a bluish top, giving them their "blueback" name. However, as they return upriver to their spawning grounds, their bodies turn bright red and their heads take on a greenish color. Breeding-age males have a distinctive look, developing a humped back and hooked jaws filled with tiny, easily visible teeth. Males and females both die within a few weeks after spawning.
Sockeyes are the third most abundant of the species of Pacific salmons and are a keystone in the North American commercial fisheries.
Coho are notoriously acrobatic, often dancing at the surface and also take well to the artificial fly at the surface for those flyfishing or light tackle enthusiasts.
The Coho come to Barkley sound and Offshore in early June and keep growing in numbers and size until late August. Coho spawn in over half the 1500 streams in BC. After the salmon eggs have hatched in the gravel of stream beds the young coho spend one or two years growing or "rearing" in fresh water. Coho then migrate as "smolts" to the ocean where they spend up to 18 months in the sea before returning to their home streams to spawn.
While most coho return to fresh water as mature adults at three years of age, some mature earlier and migrate to their home streams as "jacks" at only two years of age. At full growth, Coho vary from 4 to 12-pounds, sometimes tipping the scales in the high 20s.
Coho have white gums, black tongues, only a very few spots on the upper portion of their bodies and silver coloured tails.
They run June through September.
Pink salmon are caught more commonly offshore of Barkley Sound July August and September, a great sportfish for youngsters and are most abundant during odd-numbered years on the west coast.
They can be called humpback or humpies, pink salmon are the most abundant of the commercially important salmon in the Pacific Ocean. Pinks are also the smallest of the salmon, averaging less than 3 lbs. Like all salmon pinks are anadromous.
Pink salmon have tiny scales and a tail heavily marked with large oval spots. Unlike the other salmon species, the tail of a pink has no silver in it. In the sea, pinks have silver bodies with spotted backs.
They are more abundant in northern waters in even-numbered years and in southern waters in odd-numbered years. Pinks live only two years.
Although Chum are not commonly targeted off Barkley Sound, they are caught occasionally later in the summer season during July, August and September. Once hooked, these freight trains are exceptional sportfish, often becoming air-born and “tail-walking” at the surface.
A white tip on the anal fin usually identifies a chum salmon. Resembling sockeye, but larger, chum have silvery sides and faint grid-like bars as they near spawning streams. The tail base is narrow and there is silver in the tail. They live three to five years and weigh about 9 lbs to 14 lbs, but they have been known to reach as much as 33 lbs.
Pacific halibut have flat, diamond-shaped bodies that are compressed laterally with both eyes located on the right (upper) side of the head. Pigmentation varies from olive to dark brown or black with lighter, irregular blotches on the “upper” side, while the “underside” is white with occasional blotching.
At birth, they have an eye on each side of their head, and swim like a salmon. After six months, one eye migrates to the other side, making them look more like flounder. At the same time, the stationary-eyed side darkens to match the top side, while the other side remains white. This colour scheme disguises halibut from above (blending with the ocean floor) and from below (blending into the light from the sky) and is known as countershading.
The halibut is the largest flat fish, averaging 24–30 lb, but can weigh over 500 pounds and grow to 9 feet. Typical angler caught Halibut is from 10-60 lbs.
Can fish for these in the Barclay Sound area from April to Oct (unless quota is taken early)
Lingcod are unique to the west coast of North America, with the center of abundance off the coast of British Columbia. They are found on the bottom, with most individuals occupying rocky areas at depths of 10 to 100 m (32 to 328 feet).
They camouflage themselves in mottled colours ranging from mustard yellow and deep browns to varied greys and dark greens. The local marine environment often influences its colouring and markings.
The species lives for 14 to 20 years and averages about 10 pounds (4.53 kg). The largest lingcod on record is almost 60 inches (152 cm) long, weighing in at just over 130 pounds (59 kg)