Published on February 19, 2013 by Amy

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General Information about Chinook

Chinook are also called, king, spring, quinnat, fall-bright, blackmouth and Tyee. The scientific name, is oncorunchus tshawytscha. Oncornunchus means hooked snout. Tshawutscha is what people of the Kamchatka Peninsula call the fish.

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Chinook are the largest salmon. They can weigh over 100 pounds an can reach 58 inches in length. The average weight is 18-22 pounds. Weight varies geographically. The largest fish come from the north.


Chinook salmon are dark greenish blue on their backs and bright silver on their stomachs. They have large black spots on their back and entire tail. Chinooks have black gums and are sometimes called black mouths.

At spawning time the chinook turn dark olive brown. Male chinook develop a hooked snout and a slightly humped shoulder. After the Chinook spawn fungus appears on the males and females and looks like white patches. The Chinook then dies within a couple of weeks.


King salmon live in large rivers and their tributaries. They migrate down stream at about 3 months of age. They live in an estuary and adapt to the salt water. As soon as they are large enough to eat small fish they journey into the ocean. This usually takes about one year.


Chinook spawn in deep fast water with ping pong ball sized gravel. The female deposits 3,000-7,000 eggs in several redds in 11 to 15 inches water. Chinook have spawning runs from May to January. They will travel over two thousand miles to return to their spawning river or stream.

Life span

Ocean type Chinook migrate seaward within one year. They spend two to four years close to the coast. The chinook return to freshwater a few days or weeks before spawning. Stream type chinook spend one or more years in freshwater and two to four years at sea. They return to freshwater several months before spawning.

Source: turtletrack Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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