River Salmon General Information

The king salmon, or chinook, is the largest of the pacific salmon. Their range is from Monterey California to Point Hope Alaska. They are an anadromous species and most pacific coast rivers that provide adequate flows, temperatures and habitat suitable for ascending, spawning, and rearing young sustain king salmon runs. There may be up to three runs per year; spring, summer, and fall.

The average weight for California strains on chinook is around 18-22 pounds with the record fish weighing in at just over 50 pounds. The largest kings come from Alaska where 50 to 60 pound fish are common.

King salmon return to the river of their birth at ages from 2 to 7 years. While out to sea they have been known to migrate across the north Pacific and trips of over 7,000 miles have been recorded. The longest spawning run is the Yukon River, Alaska in which the fish must swim close to 2,000 miles up river. Salmon use a combination of smell, solar navigation, visual clues, and an awareness of length of days, light intensities, and other factors to navigate.

King salmon spawn I beds of course gravel, 1 to 3 inches in diameter. The female digs out a nest, called a redd, with her tail and body. The female then deposits her eggs while the male simultaneously fertilizes them with jets of milt. The eggs then adhere to the bottom of the nest. The eggs are covered with gravel. The female may build more than one redd over several days. Both male and females die within a few days after spawning. The decaying flesh of the dead parents provide food for organism which the fry feed upon after leaving the nest. The fry stay in the nest for 2 to 3 weeks after hatching and may remain in the river system for up to 18 months before heading out to sea.

The esophagus of the chinook soon closes upon their entry into fresh water. King salmon will not feed during their spawning runs. The only way to hook one is by eliciting an aggressive response. There are a number of lures and methods for accomplishing this. The king salmon like deep holes and channels which are the most likely places to find them. One of the most common methods is to tie anchovy or sardine filets to a large flatfish or kwickfish and drift downstream over deep holes.

Recent River Salmon Articles & Reports

Steelhead Follow Salmon Into System

Written By: Dan Bacher,
October 28, 2014

(Weaverville) While most anglers are still focusing on king salmon, increasing numbers of steelhead are starting to show in the catches as the steelies follow the salmon into the Trinity River system.

“Bank anglers are experiencing the...


Salmon Fishing Is Off And On

Written By: Dan Bacher,
October 27, 2014

(Verona) Salmon fishing has been off and on in the Verona area of the Sacramento River.

“The fishing was great at Verona, but it has tapered off,” said James Netzel of Fishing James Guide Service. “We’ve been ending up with 1 to 3 fish...


Red Hot King Salmon Bite On  The Feather River !!!!   10/26/14

Red Hot King Salmon Bite On The Feather River !!!!  10/26/14

Written By: MSJ Guide Service,
October 26, 2014

The Feather river king salmon bite continues to be Red Hot. John, Johnny and Blake all of Yuba City did an excellent job on the river. They went 6 for 10 fish. All fish caught on the New Cousins Raze series rod #RHS792-1T back...

Tips & Tactics for River Salmon
Target Sacramento Salmon From The Bank With Spinners

Target Sacramento Salmon From The Bank With Spinners

Written By: Roland Aspiras

The salmon season will be in full swing when this article appears in The Fish Sniffer. There are two popular ways to fish spinners from...


Salmon, Trout, Lingcod, Kokanee, Halibut And More: Are YOU Using Gulp! And PowerBait?

Salmon, Trout, Lingcod, Kokanee, Halibut And More: Are YOU Using Gulp! And PowerBait?

Written By: Cal Kellogg

I’m of the opinion that in most situations well-presented natural baits will outperform artificials. Following this philosophy, when the...


Back Bouncing For Salmon

Back Bouncing For Salmon

Written By: Mike McNeilly

To a back bouncer, there is nothing like feeling the rhythmic thump of your sinker as you slowly walk it downstream with the current....


River Salmon Locations
River Salmon Locations

Recent Reader's Photo

Caught by:


Species: River Salmon

My first salmon was a good one. We had a mini derby among friends with a winner takes all pot. Got our boat the prize of $170! Caught on Silvertron trolling downstream near Steamboat Slough.

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