The Mighty Chinook Salmon
Chinook salmon are the largest of the Pacific salmon species. The largest Chinook salmon on record weighed in at 126 pounds (57.27 kg)! After hatching in our fresh, inland rivers and streams, baby salmon stay to grow and mature in the waterways before migrating to the ocean in their second year. As they continue to grow in the ocean their size makes them a favourite prey of the endangered resident Orca, as well as a popular target for recreational and commercial fisheries. Eventually, fully mature adult salmon make their way back up the rivers to spawn a new generation of salmon.
Chinook salmon used to be very plentiful throughout the Okanagan, where they served as an important food source for both wildlife and humans, but salmon runs have been falling over recent decades due to destruction and degradation of their important freshwater habitats, over fishing, and installation of dams which act as barriers to their migration. The good news is that Chinook’s conservation status in BC was downgraded from endangered to threatened in 2006 as conservation and rescue efforts are showing promising signs of improving the population. They are still considered to be endangered in the Okanagan, however.