Alaska Silver Salmon (Coho) Facts


Scientific Name:
Oncorhynchus kisutch, from the Greek roots onkos (hook), rynchos (nose) and kisutch, the common name in Siberia and Alaska.

Also known as:
Coho Salmon

Silver salmon spawn in coastal streams from Northern Japan to the Anadyr River in Siberia and from Monterey Bay in California and Point Hope in Alaska. This species can also be found in the ocean from Baja, California, to the Bering Sea in Alaska. Major U.S. spawning grounds are in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

Silver Salmon are bright silver with small black spots on their backs and on the upper part of their caudal fin. The average weight is 6-12 pounds. The flesh of the silver salmon is light pink and has a very delicate flavor. A very difficult salmon to keep fresh because of its feeding habits. The flesh tends to soften very quickly unless dressed immediately after being caught.

Silver salmon utilize freshwater, nearshore and offshore environments during its lifecycles. Silver salmon spawn in the same environment as King salmon; however, Silvers prefer lower stream velocity, shallower water, and smaller gravel. Most Silver fry stay in the stream for over a year feeding on aquatic insects, zooplankton and small fish.

Adequate stream cover is important to fry survival, as is high dissolved oxygen levels. Once reaching the estuaries, Silver salmon fall prey to a number of other species and may be impacted by human changes, such as shoreline development, residential drainage and the filling of marine wetlands.

Did you know?

The Silver salmon was introduced from Pacific waters into the Great Lakes and is now abundant there.

The Record weight sport caught Silver salmon was 26 lbs. caught by Andrew Robbins in 1976 while fishing the Icy Straight.

One ½ lb. fillet of Silver Salmon has 289 calories, 42.8 grams of protein, 11.7 grams of fat, 2.4 grams of saturated fat and 91 milligrams of sodium.

Alaska Silver Salmon Life Cycle

cycle 1

The female Silver salmon returns to her original spawning ground and lays her eggs in a gravel nest at the bottom of the river, lake or stream. The male Silver salmon then covers them with sperm.

cycle 2

In late winter the fertilized eggs will hatch. At this stage, they are called alevin. They will remain hidden in the gravel nest & feed off the yolk sac from their egg for about one month.


At 4 months old the tiny salmon leave their gravel nest and begin to swim and feed for themselves. At this stage, they are called Fry. It’s also at this time that they start their journey downstream. They will spend up to 3 years as fry in slow-moving streams and lakes before migrating to the sea.


The salmon are in smolt stage when they start to swim to salt water. The smolts will spend some time in the estuary area of the river or stream while they adjust to the salt water. Only a small percentage of the original salmon will actually reach the ocean.


Adult Silver salmon spend about 18 months in the ocean swimming and feeding. They grow to their adult size and develop unique adult markings that identify them as Silvers. Once they reach full maturity, they return to their ‘home stream’ to spawn.


Upon reaching their birth rivers and streams, the adult salmon re-adapt to the fresh water and begin their upstream journey. At this time, they cease to feed and live on the stores of fat within their bodies. Both male and female salmon will die a few weeks after spawning.