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There are five species of salmon, three trout and one native char in the Salish Sea. Some of these species are further divided based on lifecycle. For example, rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species, but steelhead go to the ocean, and rainbow trout don't. These fish are cold water species, and the largest populations are anadromous--they grow to maturity at sea, and return to freshwater to spawn, resulting in a massive influx of oceanic nutrients and practically free protein. Through their diversity of lifecycles, each salmonid occupys a particular timing and habitat within the rivers, and each river has a salmonid community that reflects its size and character. The could be compared to the buffalo of the great plains for their historical and cultural significance.

This is a topic page that organizes information in the wiki that is flagged with the salmon category. We are developing a related page that is focused on the human system built around salmon recovery.

Chinook (King)

These are the largest fish, and the most prized fishery. They spawn in large river and stream Floodplain Channels, and rear on complex channel margins, but generally move to River Deltas where they may spend several months. Different life histories spend more or less time in floodplains and estuaries. Puget Sound Chinook are listed under the Endangered Species Act and are the focus of Salmon Recovery in the large river systems where they are located. Production is tracked at WDFW in the SCORE database, with most fish returning to the Skagit River Watershed, Snohomish River Watershed and Duwamish-Green River Watersheds. The NWFSC completed some analysis of the differences among the 22 populations of Chinook in Puget Sound.

Chum Salmon (Dog Salmon) and Hood Canal Summer Chum

Chum salmon tend to spawn in the lower reaches of coastal watersheds and big river tributaries, and move quickly to river deltas, embayments and beaches. Chum are a very tolerant species, in that they leave the watershed early, and so less subject to low summer flow and temperature impacts than coho or steelhead, and appear to be more tolerant of pollution than coho, and not subject to pre-spawn mortality.

Coho Salmon (Silver Salmon)

Coho are widely distributed in coastal stream and large river tributary watersheds. They rear for a year in rivers, favoring off channel habitats, including that formed by beaver before going to the sea as yearlings. Coho Pre-Spawn Mortality has created greater awareness of coho vulnerability to pollution, particularly road runoff.



Sockeye often spawn in rivers near lakes, and young may rear for more than a year in lakes before an ocean migration lasting 2 or 3 years. Land locked populations are called kokanee. Lake Ozette sockeye are listed under the Endangered Species Act

Trout and Char

Anadromous Steelhead Trout and Bulltrout, and their resident counterparts, rainbow trout and char both favor hold headwater streams for spawning. Bulltrout move to the Sound for Summer foraging, while steelhead go farther to sea.

Cutthroat trout is also very widely distributed, and has a "sea-run" subspecies, which also forages in the nearshore during summer, returning to small coastal streams to spawn.

The following categories of pages are salmon related:

Salmon Category



Delta Utilization by Salmon Category

Pages Documents