Targeted Saltwater Fish Species
Chinook Salmon (also known as spring, tyee and king) - Oncorhynchus tshawytscha How Can You Tell the Difference? Anglers should use three or more distinguishing characteristics to properly identify all salmon. In the juvenile stage of chinook salmon, some fishers misidentify them as pinks because both have spots on their tails. Description of chinook salmon in marine phase Black gums and a silver, spotted tail distinguish the chinook from other salmonids. It has a lightly spotted blue-green back and is the largest, most prized game fish. The chinook lives from three to seven years. It weighs between 1.5 kg and 30 kg. Average-size chinooks are often known as springs in B.C. Those over 13.5 kg are called tyees, and in the U.S., chinook are called king salmon.
Coho Salmon (also known as blueback and silver) - Oncorhynchus kisutch How Can You Tell the Difference? Anglers should use three or more distinguishing characteristics to properly identify all salmon. Coho are sometimes confused with chum because they both have similar colouring. Always look for the coho’s white gums and a few spots on the tail. Description of coho salmon in marine phase Coho have white gums, black tongues and a few spots on the upper portion of their bodies and silver-coloured tails. They have a wide tail base. Bright silver with a metallic blue dorsal surface. Coho usually live for three years and grow rapidly in their final year. They weigh between 1.3 kg and 14 kg. In the Strait of Georgia from April to early June, small coho passing from the grilse stage to maturity are called bluebacks.
Sockeye Salmon (also known as red salmon) - Oncorhynchus nerka How Can You Tell the Difference? Anglers should use three or more distinguishing characteristics to properly identify all salmon. Sockeye are sometimes confused with chum because they both lack spots on the tail and have a similar colouring. Description of sockeye salmon in marine phase The sockeye is almost toothless, with numerous long gill rakers and prominent, glassy eyes. The slimmest and most streamlined of the Pacific species, the silver-blue sockeye lives from four to five years. It usually weighs between 2.2 kg and 3.1 kg but can reach 6.3 kg. Young sockeye remain in fresh-water nursery lakes a year or more before migrating to the sea. Each sockeye salmon you keep must be at least 30 cm long.
Pink Salmon (also known as humpy) - Oncorhynchus gorbuscha How Can You Tell the Difference? Anglers should use three or more distinguishing characteristics to properly identify all salmon. This would, for example, aid in identifying juvenile chinook from adult pink salmon. In the early adult stage, pink salmon are often mistaken for chinook because both have spots on their tails. Description of pink salmon in marine phase Pink salmon have tiny scales and a tail heavily marked with large oval spots. Unlike the other salmon species, the tail of a pink has no silver in it. In the sea, pinks have silver bodies with spotted backs. They are the smallest of the Pacific salmon, usually weighing about 2.2 kg, but occasionally reaching 5.5 kg. They are more abundant in northern waters in even-numbered years and in southern waters in odd-numbered years. Pinks live only two years. Each pink salmon you keep must be at least 30 cm long.
Chum Salmon (also known as dog salmon) - Oncorhynchus keta How Can You Tell the Difference? Anglers should use three or more distinguishing characteristics to properly identify all salmon. Chum are sometimes confused with sockeye, because they both lack spots on their tails and have a similar coloring. Always look for the silver streaks in the chum’s tail. Description of chum salmon in marine phase A white tip on the anal fin usually identifies a chum salmon. Resembling sockeye, but larger, chum have silvery sides and faint grid-like bars as they near spawning streams. The tail base is narrow and there is silver in the tail. They live three to five years and weigh about 4.5 kg to 6.5 kg, but they have been known to reach as much as 15 kg. Each chum salmon you keep must be at least 30 cm long.
Halibut are the largest flatfish species in B.C. They are mottled olive-green, brown or black on the dark coloured side and white on opposite. The mouth is large with cone-shaped teeth and the tail is broad and slightly forked. Females are larger than males growing up to 267 cm in length and weighing 226 kg. Male’s maximum size is 140 cm and 56 kg. No one may fish for or retain halibut from January 1-31. Visit halibut for more information.
Lingcod are large predators with huge mouths armed with numerous sharp teeth. They are brown with darker marks of different colours, spots or shades on the back and sides. Female lingcod grow to 150 cm, although males rarely exceed 100 cm. Biological assessments have indicated that lingcod stocks in the Strait of Georgia waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland are severely depressed and require protection if the stocks are to rebuild. In those areas where lingcod can be retained, record your catch immediately on your licence. There is a minimum size limit of 65 cm in Areas 11, 12 and 20 to 27. The length of a lingcod means the distance measured along the body from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. The minimum size limit for a lingcod with the head removed is 53 cm, measured along the shortest length of the body to the tip of the tail. The pectoral fins should remain attached.
Rockfish are bass-like in appearance, with large mouths and eyes, spines on the head and gill plates, and prominent fins. Colour varies between species with shallow water rockfish generally having dark colours (green, brown or black) and deep water species usually orange or red. There are 35 species of rockfish known from British Columbia. Depending on the species, rockfish can range from 18 cm in length up to 120 cm.
Greenlings are a small, elongated fish with a long dorsal fin split into long sections; one along the spine area, and the other along the anal fin area. Most are inshore species foraging in rocky habitat or kelp and eelgrass beds. The two species of interest to anglers are the kelp greenling and the lingcod. Kelp greenlings reach approximately 50 cm in length, and have small mouths and five centre lines on each side. The sexes are coloured differently: males are brown with blue spots on the head and back, while females are golden-brown with red spots. Found in shallow, sometimes intertidal areas with rocky or weedy bottoms, greenling are easy to catch. They will take almost any bait or lure. Although they are often mistaken for lingcod, they do not reach the same size. They may also share a similar olive hue but tend to be much more brightly coloured.