Salmon ID Flowchart

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by plaegreid, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. When you're new to PS salmon fishing any info is helpful....and almost all of it is confusing. What I've learned over the past several years is that there is almost no easily discernible single certain feature to rely on. The most trouble I've had is with spots. The most reliable has been the black mouth... but even on that I've had several coho that had remarkably dark even the 'white mouth' on coho can be misleading.
    What I've learned is that you have to take into account as many factors as you can. As an example I've attached a photo of a tail of a Neah Bay small Chinook from this past week - notice no spots at all and it's quite silvery. The ~9lb fish had a completely black mouth and did have some, but not many, spots on its back.
    For me, it's even tougher to descriminate resident coho from SRC. There's been several threads on here over the past several years on that difficult topic. I think the decision tree helps... but should be looked at as a guide and not certainty.

    Attached Files:

    jwg likes this.
  2. Updated bull trout image, still crap, but less bad than before: NOT a salmon.jpg
    Nick Clayton likes this.
  3. Nice work man. Good on ya for taking the time. I hope as many people as possible learn the basics of iding salmon before the next pink run.

    Its amazing how many small kings get bonked as pinks. Seen a ton of them at Sekiu last year.
    plaegreid likes this.
  4. Thanks, I hope at least a few people learn something from 'em.
  5. Everyone should take a close look at the link Freestone provided for marine phase salmon.

    However one of the fun things/curse of our local salmonids is the great diversity they exhibit. While the various flow ID charts are great for generalizations there are numeral exceptions. One example; it is fairly common to find coho with no spots on their tails, some sockeye/kokanee have some spotting on their tails and I have seen Chinook that had no spots on their tails

    To separate "trout" from salmon look at their anal fins. The trout (steelhead/cutthroat) have a narrower fin (12 or fewer rays) than the various "salmon" (Chinook, coho, pinks, sockeye and chum) have a wider fin (13 or more rays).

    In the salt separating steelhead, cutthroat and bulls can also cause some confusion. To separate steelhead (rainbows) and cutthroat a good feature is the hyoid teeth (found on the back of the tongue). Cutthroat have them and rainbows don't. The dorsal fin of cutthroat generally have fewer rays (narrower) than rainbows. Rainbows and cutthroat have dark spots on a lighter background while bull trout have lighter sports on a darker background.

    As a friend often said every time we attempt to place our various salmonids in a convenient box they will jump out of it; in other words use any ID chart with an open mind.

    jwg likes this.
  6. I like this thread.....however I only clicked on it because I was curious about the flows of the Salmon river in Idaho:rolleyes:
    plaegreid likes this.
  7. Now with a warning at the bottom.

    11  flowchart Useful +Disclaimer.jpg
    Nick Clayton and Josh like this.
  8. I'm working on a scanner invention, just scan the fish's eye ball and the scanner will tell you if it's a keeper or a put'r back. :D
    Nick Clayton and plaegreid like this.

Share This Page