Chinooks are the largest and top-of-the-line among the Pacific salmon species. Unlike other Pacific salmon, which spend anywhere from one to three years at sea, kings can stay out as long as five years before returning to their natal streams. They are harvested from central California to the Yukon River in Alaska and in Canada, primarily by trollers but also by seiners and gillnetters. Some chinooks are well over 50 pounds but the bulk of the commercial catch is between 11 and 18 pounds. Chinook salmon are often known and marketed by the name of the river system from which they come. The Copper River produces excellent kings. Other Alaska river systems are the Kuskokwim and the Yukon. The return of Copper River salmon in late May or early June heralds the beginning of Alaska’s wild salmon season. Chinook salmon is also farmed in British Columbia, Washington, New Zealand and Chile.
Images and data provided by SeafoodSource. To view the entire Seafood Handbook, visit SeafoodSource.com.