Salmon Fish 101 – Can You Eat It? Discover How To Identify And Tips To Catch!

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Salmon fish

All Pacific salmon are anadromous: part of their lives live in freshwater and part in saltwater. They are born in freshwater and spend different times in river systems or lakes before venturing out to sea, where they grew and matured.

Then they eventually return to their home in freshwater to lay their eggs.

Pacific salmon’s time at sea varies from species to species, but they all have one thing in common: all fish die after spawning. There are many fun facts and essential information about salmon in this article.

So, read till the end to know everything about salmon.


What Is Salmon Fish?


Salmon, initially a large fish, is now called Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). However, the name has recently been applied to similar fish in the same family (Salmonidae), especially Pacific salmon that make up the genus Oncorhynchus.

There are six types of Salmon species. Six species of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus): Sockeye salmon (O. nerka), found in the Columbia River from the northern Bering Sea to Japan and the northwestern United States.

From the Bering Sea to the Salinas River in Japan and Monterey Bay, Coho salmon or Silver salmon (O. kisutch) is found.

Chum salmon, or Dog salmon (O. keta), is from the Mackenzie and Lena Rivers in the southern Arctic to Japan and the Rogue River.

From the Yukon River to the King of China and the Sacramento River, Spring or Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha); pink salmon (O. gorbuscha) are found.

From the Arctic to Japan and the Klamath River, Cherry salmon (O. masu) are found near the coast of Japan. Atlantic salmon is native to rivers on both sides of the North Atlantic.

Salmon live in the ocean for most of their lives, but they return to the river where they were born to lay eggs when they grow up. They use their sense of smell to find their breeding grounds in the original river.

One species of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) can also sense the difference in the earth’s magnetic field for navigation. It comes from the new currents of the high seas. Then cover the eggs with gravel.

Adult Pacific salmon will die shortly after spawning, but many Atlantic salmon will return to the sea and spawn in open water after a year or two, some up to three or four times.

They lay eggs in late summer or autumn, and eggs usually hatch in late winter. The young pink salmon went into the sea almost immediately, and the salmon disappeared again within a few weeks.

Coho salmon stay in the stream all year round, while the young king salmon and Atlantic salmon can forage in the stream for one to three years or more. Young sockeye salmon live in the lake for one to five years before entering the sea.


Distribution And Life Cycle of Salmon


Distribution of Salmon

Salmon grows in the tributaries of the North Atlantic (Salmon) and the Pacific (Oncorhynchus).

Many species of salmon have been introduced into extraterrestrial environments, such as the Great Lakes in North America and Patagonia in South America. As a result, salmon is found in many parts of the world.

image of salmon fish in north atlantic

Salmon is usually anadromous: they hatch in freshwater, migrate to the ocean, and then return to reproduce in freshwater; however, the populations of some species are restricted to freshwater for life.

The exact place where they were born. Some research shows that this is mostly the case. Some returning salmon may be lost and spawn in various freshwater systems, but the percentage of loss depends on the type of salmon.

The Life Cycle of Salmon

Compared with typical freshwater or saltwater fish, the life cycle of salmon is fascinating. Salmon is anadromous, which means that it lives throughout its life in the sea.

Life Cycle of Salmon Fish

But they migrate to rivers and streams to lay eggs. In short, they are born and die in freshwater rivers but stay in the ocean until they reach adulthood with different stages of the life cycle.

Eggs

In autumn, salmon eggs are laid on gravel beds at the bottom of streams and lakes, placed a few meters below the water surface, protected from indirect sunlight.

image of salmon eggs in the lake

The eggs are spherical, slightly translucent, pink or pink hues, and red during the egg stage. The developing organs can be easily seen through the fine coating. Hatching usually occurs within 2-3 months after laying eggs.

Newly Hatched

Water flow and temperature are critical for hatching salmon eggs. The 1-inch-long young pigeons under one year old have huge eyes, clinging to a bright orange bag no longer than a nutritious egg yolk.

The newly hatched live in gravel nests for several months, feeding on the egg yolk below their bodies.

Young Salmon Fry

Another stage is that of fry. When the nutrient-rich egg yolk is absorbed, the fry leaves the gravel nest, swims, and feeds on tiny plankton and aquatic plants.

image of young salmon fish

In many cases, the salmon fry can quickly become large fish, insects, and birds. Unfortunately, in their lifetime, the mortality rate of young salmon is the highest.

Parr Stage

When the fry reaches the Parr stage, they are about six inches long. During this period, vertical marks appeared on his body and sides.

Species like king salmon migrate into the ocean during or immediately after the fry stage. The other species feed Parr and grow about 1 to 3 years in a freshwater stream before entering the sea.

Smolt Stage

In the smolt stage, the developing salmons reach the estuary―where the river meets the ocean and becomes silvery white due to the loss of vertical stripes.

They usually swim in groups and often visit the ocean. Over time, their body adapts to the saltwater of the ocean.

Adult stage

The body map of an adult salmon is very distinctive and varies significantly from one species to another. Adults can spend 3 to 7 years in the ocean before migrating upwards to their birth eggs, depending on the species.

After that, adult salmon stop eating and change body color; males remain light-colored, females become darker. After mating, the adult female lays eggs in the spawning area, and the entire path is repeated repeatedly.

The average lifespan of salmon is seven years. Most species that inhabit the Pacific die immediately after laying their eggs. This behavior is called “semi-equalization.” Few species can lay eggs again.

The spawning rate is very high (40% to be precise) because adult breeders cannot stay in freshwater for a long time. Simply put, salmon eggs hatch in the river, migrate to the sea, and then return to the river to lay their eggs.


Type of Salmon


Following are the six types of salmon.

Six Different Types of Salmon Fish

King salmon or chinook

This salmon is worthy of its royal title. Many people think it is the best salmon they can buy. Royal salmon (also known as Chinook salmon) is high in fat, large, and omega-3 fatty acids.

King salmon is 5 feet tall and weighs more than 100 pounds. It can be seen everywhere, from the waters of the Pacific Ocean in southern California to the cold rivers of northern Alaska.

Sockeye/Red

Sockeye salmon is famous for its bright orange flesh and rich aroma. In addition, it has a stronger flavor, or some people call it “more fishy.”

They are smaller and thinner than Kings and much cheaper. Sockeye salmon is usually sold in smoked form and is loved by chefs all over the country.

They are not only named for their bright red meat but also their skin. When they swim upstream to lay eggs, they turn dark red. Most of them are caught in Alaska waters.

Coho salmon

Coho salmon is named for their shiny silver skin. Although they do not receive the same attention as the large king and delicious sockeye salmon, the Coho salmon is medium fat and tastes better.

Its taste is similar to that of the king salmon, but the texture of cohos is tenderer. They are commonly found in waters near Alaska and most of the North Pacific.

Pink Salmon

This salmon is pink or called hump-backed because it has a hump on its back, formed as it lays eggs and white meat. They have a mild taste, low fat, and small size, usually weighing 2 to 6 pounds. Although

It can be fresh and frozen; it is usually processed and sold in cans or bags. Most pink salmon is caught in Alaska fisheries, but it can also be found near Washington and the Oregon coast. In 2017, anglers caught 495 million pounds more pink salmon than any other fish.

Chum/Silverbrite/Keta/Dog

Chum salmon has many names. This light-to-medium-colored fish has less fat and is smaller in size. Their meat is usually sold in canned or frozen form.

However, it has an excellent quality: caviar. The caviar or roe found in the ovaries of female fish is considered a delicacy in many cuisines. Chum salmon caviar is usually larger and more delicious than other types of salmon.

Atlantic/Salmo Salar

After all, the only salmon that does not come from the Pacific is Atlantic salmon; however, all commercially available Atlantic salmon is farmed because today, only small and endangered populations can be found in the wild.

As a result, the taste is softer but usually larger in size due to a special diet.

However, as fisheries shifted to more plant-based foods, aquaculture has improved. In addition, because they are farmed, Atlantic salmon is usually cheaper than wild salmon.


Salmon Fish Facts


Salmon is an interesting fish. There are many facts about them; the following are some of them that you will enjoy!

Ability To Change Color

Salmon has three different colors throughout their life. Young sockeye salmon are light-colored and spotted, and when they are adults, they are silver-blue in the sea. The adult’s body turns bright red, and the head turns green during spawn time.

Salmon Is A Fresh And Saltwater Fish

Salmon is considered anadromous, which means it lives in fresh and saltwater. It is born in fresh water and can spend months to years there (depending on the species) before migrating to the ocean.

image of a salmon fish inside the water

However, few fish can survive and die between saltwater and freshwater. This is because saltwater fish will rupture their cells when exposed to freshwater, and when freshwater fish are exposed to seawater, they fold due to the osmotic adjustment process.

Salmon Are A Keystone Species

This means that they have a disproportionate impact on their ecosystem compared to numbers. If a keystone species disappears, its ecosystem will undergo significant changes.

image of a dead salmon

For example, rotting salmon carcasses transport valuable nutrients from the ocean to the land. Nutrients from the body of salmon and found in moss, grass, shrubs, trees, insects, songbirds, bears, and wolves.

Back To Their Home

After living on the sea for many years, salmon travel home and return to the river where they were born to lay their eggs.

There are many theories on how they do this. For example, some people believe that salmon use the earth’s magnetic field, which guides them, while others say they use a strong sense of smell that takes them to their homes.

Have A Strong Sense of Smell

Salmon has a very strong sense of smell. Most research shows that they come back to their home by using their good sense of smell. Not all species possess this quality, but salmon is enlisted in that.

The Largest Species

The largest Atlantic salmon weighs 105 pounds and 60 inches; however, adults returning to the Gulf of Maine River depend on how long they have been at sea, usually weighing about 712 pounds and growing at 2,832 inches after two years at sea.

Their Names Are Suitable For Them:

Many people think that “salmon” comes from the Latin Salmo or salire, which means “jump.” However, if you have ever seen salmon fighting against torrents and strong currents when they lay their eggs upstream, you will know that its name is suitable.


Where Do Salmon Live?


All salmon are classified as anadromous, a term derived from the Greek words for climbing (ana) and running (dromos). This applies to fish that spend part of their life in the ocean and spawn in freshwater rivers or streams.

Anadromous fish are born in freshwater, migrate to maturity or puberty in saltwater, and then return to freshwater for reproduction. Atlantic salmon, Coho salmon, and Chinook salmon are the most famous anadromous fish.

Others include rainbow trout, sturgeon, striped bass, herring, and silver carp. There are about 100 species of anadromous fish in the world.

image of a person holding a salmon

The fact which makes the anadromous phenomenon challenging to understand is that some anadromous species have naturally adapted or introduced their life in freshwater environments.

These species, including freshwater salmon, striped bass, and rainbow trout, are found in lakes and spend most of their lives spawning in rivers. In this case, these fish initially come from the ocean.

However, they are still anadromous when transitioning to clean freshwater, even though they use lakes as oceans. Sometimes these fish cannot reach the sea.

Some fish in streams, such as highlands, have a path to the sea, but they cannot return due to obstacles, especially waterfalls.


Can You Eat Salmon?


Fish is an integral part of a healthy diet, and salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in all types of fish, but salmon and other fish have a large amount of fat stored in their muscles.

Fatty acids can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in adults and promote healthy vision and brain development in infants.

The controversy over farmed salmon and wild salmon consumption is complex, and reports in the media, the Internet, and scientific publications are often contradictory.

Image of silver salmon fish

However, these topics can be divided into three main categories: environmental issues, pollution, and the content of omega-3 fatty acids in edible parts. The good news is that wild and farmed salmon have low mercury, PCBs, and other pollutants.

Today, most edible salmon is farmed. Early studies reported that other pollutants in farmed salmon are higher than in wild salmon species, such as pink salmon.

However, some studies did not confirm this. Scientists and regulatory agencies agreed that farmed salmon and wild salmon are safe food.

Research on salmon from these sources shows that the level of organic pollutants in fish is very low. In addition, dietary changes have reduced the pollutant content of salmon fish.


How Long Can Salmon Stay In The Fridge?


Proper storage is the key to preservation. Salmon can be refrigerated for up to two days. Take the salmon out of the package, rinse it with cold water, and dry it with a paper towel. Wrap the fish tightly with plastic film.

Then stick a layer of aluminum foil. Before wrapping the salmon, you can also add lemon to taste—store in the coldest part of the refrigerator, possibly in the bottom drawer.

Image of fish being stored in freezer

Make sure your refrigerator is at the right temperature, about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, to ensure safety. If the salmon is not eaten within two days, it should be stored in the refrigerator. After freezing, salmon can be kept fresh for up to three months.

When storing in the fridge, follow the same steps but make sure that the salmon is tightly wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil. Any contact with the air will degrade the fish. Put the salmon in the freezer bag and write the date on the label to record the freezing time.

Moreover, when you know you want to stock fresh salmon, order the vacuum-packed fish and freeze it for up to eight months. If you know how to store salmon, you can enjoy it for weeks or even months. It tastes like the one you caught this morning!


Diet For Salmon


The diet of salmon depends on their types. However, salmons are not picky eaters. Salmon fry eats more insects, invertebrates, and plankton; adults eat other fish, octopus, eel, and shrimp.

Moreover, salmon’s diet depends on its species and region. Salmon juveniles usually feed on zooplankton and aquatic invertebrates, mayfly, stone moth, freckles, and worms. In the ocean, salmon eat small fish such as herring and crustaceans or krill.


How To Identify A Salmon Fish?


It is easy to identify salmon. However, the different types obviously seem different. Therefore, you have to know about them!

image of six different salmon fishes
@TheSpruceEats

Atlantic Salmon

If you want to catch Atlantic salmon, then remember this. Atlantic salmon have one or more large black spots on their lids (king salmon, Coho salmon, do not have this mark, while steelhead fish have many small spots on their heads).

In addition, they have X-shaped spots on their backs, most of them above the sideline, and no spots on the slightly branched tail.

Coho And King Salmon

Chinook salmon is the largest salmon, with a maximum weight of more than 50 pounds and an average weight of 11 to 20 pounds. The king salmon has many round black spots on the back and sides above the sideline.

The tail is moderately forked, with small black spots on the top and bottom. In addition, they have black gums (hence the name “black-mouthed salmon”), small eyes, and a narrower tail stalk than the rest of the body.

Sockeye Salmon

The sockeye salmon is blue-green above the sideline, with no markings on the back or tail. Its maximum weight can reach 16 pounds, but the average weight is between 6 and 8 pounds.

They have large scales and narrow stems. The head is green, but the whole body turns red on the sideline.

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon are usually smaller than other salmon species and are softer and less robust. They can weigh up to 15 pounds, and the average weight is 4 to 8 pounds. They have small scales and black spots, mainly on the back.

They have black oval spots on both tail lobes (not round like king salmon or Coho salmon). There is a big hump on the back. Hence the nickname “Humpy Salmon.”

Chum Salmon

The maximum weight of chum salmon can reach 20 pounds, and the average weight ranges from 6 to 12 pounds.

They are steel blue with large scales and have large black spots on their bodies, but they are not like King, Coho, or Pinks. Instead, its eyes have large pupils, its tail is flawless, and a silver stream emanates from the narrow tail.


How To Catch Salmon Fish?


There are different techniques used to catch salmon, which are as follows.

Fly Fishing Method

Fly fishing is a method of fishing, usually on the banks of the river. It may be helpful to use a boat to get from one place to another, and sometimes it makes sense to stand on the boat for fly fishing when the water is too deep.

The fly rod is longer and more flexible than the spinning or bait reel. In the world of fly fishing, you should choose between fast-moving rods, middle-moving rods, and slow-moving rods. In addition, the lever is much more flexible than the quick-action lever.

image of a person in lake doing fly fishing

The end of the fishing line is an artificial fly, hence the name of this fishing method. Flies are usually bright and attractive insect-like bait. Flies can be made of many materials, including feathers and deer.

Some anglers consider bait to be taboo, but fly fishing may attract fish because flies have weight and resemble salmon’s natural prey, herring, or needles.

The success of fly fishing depends to a large extent on the correct throwing technique. The right throw is best learned from experienced anglers, who can do this by observing their practice in the water.

Fishing With Planer Boards

If you are near the Great Lakes, use planer boards. Planer board is made of wood, plastic, and it is not effective in solid currents. The feature of the planer board is that multiple lines can be used on the water at the same time.

image of person holding fish

When fishing with planer boards, the first thing you need to do is determine where the fishing rod is connected to the boat. Ensure that the planer you are using fits the ship’s side where the fishing rod is hanging.

This creates a variable angle and prevents the lines from tangling in the water. Next, you need to place the planer on the fishing line. The planer uses a lock as a pulley system and adjusts the angle of the line.

On the side, you also need to make sure that the line has weight to keep the bait at the desired depth. Then connect each rod to both sides of the boat so that the line passes through the water.


Salmon Fishing Tips


  • Fishing for salmon upstream means finding a water source for the fish, which usually requires more travel and exploration.
  • Only a wet line can catch fish! No matter how expensive the fishing tackle is, you can’t catch fish without wearing it. Old-fashioned but authentic.
  • Try fishing during the peak season from January to March.
  • Salmon may be nearby, even if you can’t see it. Expect fish every time you throw.
  • Go upstream, don’t hide too fast! With surf fishing, you can fish for salmon anywhere, from the surface to the bottom of the sea.
  • Keep the end of the hook very sharp. Better yet, use a chemically sharp hook. Salmon often “hooks” without pulling.
  • The best time for salmon fishing is usually at dawn.
  • Catch up with the high tide in the lower half of the wave. As the tide gets closer, move back to the gut and lower braids.
  • First, catch salmon with experienced partners. This will significantly increase your chances. You will also learn many new things that you can practice on your own.

Final Verdict:

Salmon is an exciting species. They are unique and popular: therefore, anglers love to fish salmon. However, they are not picky eaters but are hard fighters.

Salmon has a unique flavor and different appearance than most fish, which is discussed in detail in the article. Hopefully, you got the essential information about the salmon you were searching for, and hopefully, they will come in handy.


Frequently Asked Questions

#1 – Why is salmon bad for you?

If you are not feeling well, then salmon can be dangerous for you. According to a report, almost 800,000 people in the U.S diagnose cancer after eating farmed salmon. Moreover, salmon contains a high amount of fat and cholesterol.

#2 – Why is salmon expensive?

Salmon is expensive because it is a hard fighter. Wild salmon are hard to catch; therefore, catching them is costly. On the other hand, farmed salmon is expensive because it takes a high amount to raise them. So, making them expensive.

#3 – What are the benefits of salmon fish?

There are many benefits of salmon fish.

  • Rich in omega-three fatty acids.
  • It contains a high amount of protein.
  • It is rich in vitamin B.
  • It is a good source of potassium.
  • It includes a good amount of selenium.
  • It reduces the risk of heart diseases.

#4 – What is the best salmon to eat?

There are many types of salmon; every kind of salmon is healthy for people’s health. However, some of the most famous and considered the most beneficial types are Pacific salmon species.

#5 – When should you not eat salmon?

If cooked salmon (only stored for two days) smells sour, it should be discarded. However, don’t take the slimy consistency for granted because this is an essential indicator of deterioration. Remember, deteriorated salmon can cause severe food poisoning.

#6 – Is wild salmon worth the price?

Wild salmon is much more expensive than farmed salmon. It is definitely worth the extra money. However, farmed salmon contains more potentially dangerous contaminants due to environmental and dietary differences than wild salmon.

#7 – Is it okay to eat salmon every week?

Some farmed salmon may contain artificial colors, omega-6 fats, and toxins in the ocean, but experts agree that eating salmon and other fish every week is better than eating beef every week.

#8 – Why is Atlantic salmon bad?

Atlantic salmon tends to be more responsive to environmental and processed feed pollution; Atlantic salmon contains more PCBs, which is considered carcinogenic that causes cancer.

#9 – Can you lose weight by eating salmon?

Eating salmon can help you lose weight. Like other high-protein foods, it helps regulate hormones, thereby controlling appetite and keeping you full. In addition, after eating high-protein foods such as salmon, your metabolism will increase the most.

#10 – Is salmon healthier than chicken?

Although both are excellent sources of protein and can improve your nutritional status, the benefits of fish are often slightly higher than chicken, especially in terms of omega-3 content.

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