Salmon and Halibut Species Info
Four 50 lb plus halibut taken at the Pig Pen in less then 2 hours.
Fishing the west coast of BC with Albion charters will most likely land you with a similar story.
Salmon Fishing the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, B.C.
Salmon & Halibut
Albion fishing charters - Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia - Salmon and Halibut fishing charters
Murray Demman - 30 years experience salmon and halibut fishing the west coast of Vancouver Island
Contact Cell: 250.726.8761
Pacific Salmon species belong to the genus Oncorhynchus
The main salmon species that we you will be targeting with Albion charters are the Chinook, Coho and sometimes Sockeye. All these salmon are incredible table fare and can be prepared many different ways. Mostly people find BBQ'd Salmon the best way to enjoy these treasures. And of course lets not forget the Flatties (halibut) one of the best eating fish in the world.
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is also known in the USA as King or Blackmouth Salmon, and as Spring Salmon in British Columbia. Chinook are the largest of all Pacific salmon, frequently exceeding 30 lb (14 kg). The name Tyee is used in British Columbia to refer to Chinook over 30 pounds (15 kg). Chinook salmon are known to range as far north as the Mackenzie River and Kugluktuk in the central Canadian arctic.
Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) is also known in the USA as Silver salmon. This species is found throughout the coastal waters of Alaska and British Columbia and up most clear-running streams and rivers. It is also now known to occur, albeit infrequently, in the Mackenzie River.
Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is also known in the USA as Red salmon. This lake-rearing species is found south as far as the Klamath River in California in the eastern Pacific and northern Hokkaido Island in Japan in the western Pacific and as far north as Bathurst Inlet in the Canadian Arctic in the east and the Anadyr River in Siberia in the west. Although most adult Pacific salmon feed on small fish, shrimp and squid; sockeye feed on plankton that they filter through gill rakers.
Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) is known as Dog, Keta, or Calico salmon in some parts of the USA. This species has the widest geographic range of the Pacific species: south to the Sacramento River in California in the eastern Pacific and the island of Kyushu in the Sea of Japan in the western Pacific; north to the Mackenzie River in Canada in the east and to the Lena River in Siberia in the west.
Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), known as humpies in south east Alaska, are found from northern California and Korea, throughout the northern Pacific, and from the Mackenzie River in Canada to the Lena River in Siberia, usually in shorter coastal streams. It is the smallest of the Pacific species, with an average weight of 3.5 lb (1.6 kg) to 4 lb (1.8 kg).
Salmon is a popular food. Consuming salmon is considered to be healthy due to the fish's high protein, high Omega-3 fatty acids, and high vitamin D content. Salmon is also a source of cholesterol, ranging 23-214 mg/100g depending on the species. According to reports in the journal Science, however, farmed salmon may contain high levels of dioxins.
PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) levels may be up to eight times higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon. Omega-3 content may also be lower than in wild caught specimens, and in a different proportion to what is found naturally. Omega 3 comes in three types, ALA, DHA and EPA; wild salmon has traditionally been an important source of DHA and EPA, which are important for brain function and structure, among other things. This means that if the farmed salmon is fed on a meal which is partially grain then the amount of Omega 3 it contains will be present as ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). The body can itself convert ALA Omega 3 into DHA and EPA, but at a very inefficient rate (2-15%). Nonetheless, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the benefits of eating even farmed salmon still outweigh any risks imposed by contaminants. Type of Omega 3 present may not be a factor for other important health functions. A simple rule of thumb is that the vast majority of Atlantic salmon available on the world market are farmed (greater than 99%), whereas the majority of Pacific salmon are wild-caught (greater than 80%). Farmed Atlantic salmon out number wild Atlantic salmon 85 to 1.
Salmon as food
Good reasons to eat fresh wild salmon over farmed salmon
Salmon flesh is generally orange to red in colour, although there are some examples of white fleshed wild salmon. The natural colour of salmon results from carotenoid pigments, largely astaxanthin but also canthaxanthin, in the flesh. Wild salmon get these carotenoids from eating krill and other tiny shellfish. Because consumers have shown a reluctance to purchase white fleshed salmon, astaxanthin (E161j), and very minutely canthaxanthin (E161g), are added as artificial colorants to the feed of farmed salmon because prepared diets do not naturally contain these pigments. In most cases the astaxanthin is made chemically; alternatively it is extracted from shrimp flour. Another possibility is the use of dried red yeast, which provides the same pigment. However, synthetic mixtures are the least expensive option. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that stimulates the development of healthy fish nervous systems and that enhances the fish's fertility and growth rate. Research has revealed canthaxanthin may have negative effects on the human eye, accumulating in the retina at high levels of consumption. Today the concentration of carotenoids (mainly canthaxanthin and astaxanthin) exceeds 8 mg/kg of flesh and all fish producers try to reach a level that represents a value of 16 on the "Roche Color Card", a colour card used to show how pink the fish will appear at specific doses. This scale is specific for measuring the pink colour due to astaxanthin and is not for the orange hue obtained with canthaxanthin. The development of processing and storage operations, which can be detrimental on canthaxanthin flesh concentration, has led to an increased quantity of pigments added to the diet to compensate for the degrading effects of the processing. In wild fish, carotenoid levels of up to 20-25 mg are present, but levels of canthaxanthin are, in contrast, minor.
Canned salmon in the U.S. is usually wild Pacific catch, though some farmed salmon is available in canned form. Smoked salmon is another popular preparation method, and can either be hot or cold smoked. Lox can refer either to cold smoked salmon or to salmon cured in a brine solution (also called gravlax). Traditional canned salmon includes some skin (which is harmless) and bone (which adds calcium). Skinless and boneless canned salmon is also available.
Salmon Life cycle
In Alaska, the crossing-over to other streams allows salmon to populate new streams, such as those that emerge as a glacier retreats. The precise method salmon use to navigate has not been entirely established, though their keen sense of smell is involved. In all species of Pacific salmon, the mature individuals die within a few days or weeks of spawning, a trait known as semelparity. However, even in those species of salmon that may survive to spawn more than once (iteroparity), post-spawning mortality is quite high (perhaps as high as 40 to 50%.)
In order to lay her roe, the female salmon uses her dorsal fin to excavate a shallow depression, called a redd. The redd may sometimes contain 5,000 eggs covering 30 square feet (2.8 m2). The eggs usually range from orange to red in color. One or more males will approach the female in her redd, depositing his sperm, or milt, over the roe. The female then covers the eggs by disturbing the gravel at the upstream edge of the depression before moving on to make another redd. The female will make as many as 7 redds before her supply of eggs is exhausted. The salmon will then die within a few days of spawning.
The eggs will hatch into alevin or sac fry. The fry quickly develop into parr with camouflaging vertical stripes. The parr stay for one to three years in their natal stream before becoming smolts which are distinguished by their bright silvery colour with scales that are easily rubbed off. It is estimated that only 10% of all salmon eggs survive long enough to reach this stage. The smolt body chemistry changes, allowing them to live in salt water. Smolts spend a portion of their out-migration time in brackish water, where their body chemistry becomes accustomed to osmoregulation in the ocean.
The salmon spend about one to five years (depending on the species) in the open ocean where they will become sexually mature. The adult salmon returns primarily to its natal stream to spawn. When fish return for the first time they are called whitling in the UK and grilse or peel in Ireland. Prior to spawning, depending on the species, the salmon undergoes changes. They may grow a hump, develop canine teeth, develop a kype (a pronounced curvature of the jaws in male salmon). All will change from the silvery blue of a fresh run fish from the sea to a darker color. Condition tends to deteriorate the longer the fish remain in freshwater, and they then deteriorate further after they spawn becoming known as kelts. Salmon can make amazing journeys, sometimes moving hundreds of miles upstream against strong currents and rapids to reproduce. Chinook and sockeye salmon from central Idaho, for example, travel over 900 miles (1,400 km) and climb nearly 7,000 feet (2,100 m) from the Pacific ocean as they return to spawn.
Each year, the fish experiences a period of rapid growth, often in summer, and one of slower growth, normally in winter. This results in rings (annuli) analogous to the growth rings visible in a tree trunk. Freshwater growth shows as densely crowded rings, sea growth as widely spaced rings; spawning is marked by significant erosion as body mass is converted into eggs and milt.
Freshwater streams and estuaries provide important habitat for many salmon species. They feed on terrestrial and aquatic insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans while young, and primarily on other fish when older. Eggs are laid in deeper water with larger gravel, and need cool water and good water flow (to supply oxygen) to the developing embryos. Mortality of salmon in the early life stages is usually high due to natural predation and human induced changes in habitat, such as siltation, high water temperatures, low oxygen conditions, loss of stream cover, and reductions in river flow. Estuaries and their associations wetlands provide vital nursery areas for the salmon prior to their departure to the open ocean. Wetlands not only help buffer the estuary from silt and pollutants, but also provide important feeding and hiding areas.
The salmon has long been at the heart of the culture and livelihood of coastal dwellers. Most peoples of the Northern Pacific shore had a ceremony to honor the first return of the year. For many centuries, people caught salmon as they swam upriver to spawn. A famous spearfishing site on the Columbia River at Celilo Falls was inundated after great dams were built on the river. The Ainu, of northern Japan, taught dogs how to catch salmon as they returned to their breeding grounds en masse. Now, salmon are caught in bays and near shore.
Salmon population levels are of concern in the Atlantic and in some parts of the Pacific but in Alaska stocks are still abundant. Fish farming of Pacific salmon is outlawed in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone, however, there is a substantial network of publicly funded hatcheries, and the State of Alaska's fisheries management system is viewed as a leader in the management of wild fish stocks. Some of the most important Alaska Salmon sustainable wild fisheries are located near the Kenai River, Copper River, and in Bristol Bay. In Canada, returning Skeena River wild salmon support commercial, subsistence and recreational fisheries as well as the area's diverse wildlife on the coast and around communities hundreds of miles inland in the watershed. The status of wild salmon in Washington is mixed. Out of 435 wild stocks of salmon and steelhead only 187 of them were classified as healthy. 113 had an unknown status, 1 was extinct, 12 were in critical condition and 122 were experiencing depressed populations. The Columbia River salmon population is now less than 3% of what it was when Lewis and Clark arrived at the river. Both Atlantic and Pacific Salmon are popular sportfish.
A halibut is a type of flatfish from the family of the right-eye flounders (Pleuronectidae). This name is derived from haly (holy) and butt (flat fish), alleged to be called so from being commonly eaten on holy-days. Halibut live in both the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans and are highly regarded food fish.
The Halibut is the largest of all flat fish, with an average weight of about 11 - 13.5 kg (25 - 30 lb), but they can grow to be as much as 196 kg (431 lbs). The Halibut is blackish-grey on the top side and off-white on the underbelly side. When the Halibut is born the eyes are on both sides of its head, and it swims like a salmon. After about 6 months one eye will migrate to the other side of its head, making it look more like the flounder. This happens at the same time that the stationary eyed side begins to develop a blackish-grey pigment while the other side remains white. This disguises a halibut from above (blending with the ocean floor) and from below (blending into the light from the sky).
Halibut feed on almost any animal they can fit in their mouths. Animals found in their stomachs include sand lance, octopus, crab, salmon, hermit crabs, lamprey, sculpin, cod, pollock, herring, and flounder. Halibut can be found at depths as shallow as a few meters to hundreds of meters deep, and although they spend most of their time near the bottom, halibut will move up in the water column to feed. In most ecosystems the halibut is near the top of the marine food chain. In the North Pacific the only common predators of halibut are the sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), the orca whale (Orcinus orca), and the salmon shark (Lamna ditropis).
Commercial halibut fishery in the North Pacific dates to the late 19th century and today is one of the largest and most lucrative fisheries in the region. In Canadian and U.S. waters of the North Pacific, halibut are taken by longline, using chunks of octopus ("devilfish") or other bait on circle hooks attached at regular intervals to a weighted line that can extend for several miles across the bottom. Typically the fishing vessel hauls gear after several hours up to a day has passed.
Careful international management of Pacific halibut is necessary, as the species occupies the waters of the United States, Canada, Russia, and possibly Japan (known to the Japanese as Ohyo), and is a slow-maturing fish. Halibut do not reproduce until age eight, when they are approximately 30 inches (76 cm) long, so commercial capture of fish below this length is an unsustainable practice and is against U.S. and Canadian regulations. Halibut fishing in the Pacific is managed by the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC).
For most of its modern duration, commercial halibut fishery operated as a derby-style fishery where regulators declared time slots when fishing was open (typically 24-48 hours at a time) and fisherman raced to catch as many pounds as they could within that window. This approach accommodated unlimited participation in the fishery while allowing regulators to control the quantity of fish caught annually by controlling the number and timing of openings. The approach frequently led to unsafe fishing as openings necessarily set in advance and fisherman felt compelled economically to leave port virtually regardless of the weather. The approach also provided fresh halibut to the markets for only several weeks each year.
In 1995, regulators in the United States implemented a quota-based fishery by allocating individual fishing quotas (IFQs) to existing fishery participants based on each vessel's documented historical catch. IFQs grant holders a specific proportion of each year's total allowable catch (TAC) as determined by regulators and can be fished at any time during the 9-month open season. The IFQ system improved both the safety of the fishery and the quality of the product by providing a stable flow of fresh halibut to the marketplace. Critics of the program suggest that, since IFQs are a saleable commodity and the fish a public resource, the IFQ system gave a public resource to the private sector. Would-be fisherman who were not part of the initial IFQ allocation are also critical of the program saying that the capital costs to fishery entry are now too high.
There is also a significant sport fishery in Alaska and British Columbia where halibut are a prized game and food fish. Sport fisherman use large rods and reels with line weights from 80 to 150 pound test, and often bait with herring, large jigs, or even whole salmon heads. Halibut are very strong, thus in both commercial and sport fisheries large halibut (over 50 to 100 pounds (20 to 50 kg)) are often shot or otherwise subdued before they are brought onto the boat. The sport fishery in Alaska is one of the key elements to the state's summer tourism economy. Halibut are typically broiled, deep fat fried or lightly grilled while fresh. The fillets can also be smoked but this method is more difficult with halibut meat than it is with salmon, due to the ultra-low fat content of halibut. Eaten fresh, the meat has a very clean taste and requires little seasoning. Halibut is also noted for its very dense and firm texture, almost more akin to chicken.
Halibut have been an important food source to Native Americans and Canadian First Nations for thousands of years and continue to be a key element to many coastal subsistence economies. The management of the halibut resource to accommodate the competing interests of commercial, sport, and subsistence users is a contentious current issue.