Is it a Kokanee or a Chinook???

Telling the difference between Kokanee and Chinook or Coho

One of the recurring questions that I come across is how do you determine the difference between a Chinook or Silver Salmon versus a Kokanee. They look very similar and there are some that say you can tell by the gum line and others by the spots on the tail or shape of the tail or… The truth is that those methods will work sometimes but as anyone who spends much time targeting Kokanee can tell you; there are always variations within those characteristics.

The one proven method is to look at the gill rakers. Very simply lift up the gill plate and look at the gill that will be exposed. Kokanee being plankton feeders will have long fine gill rakers very close together. Their purpose being to collect the plankton that they are feeding on. If you lift the gill plate on a Chinook or Silver salmon (which are predators not plankton eaters) the gill rakers will be short and stubby (see detail at left) and somewhat widely spaced in comparison to the Kokanee.

The gill shown in the picture to the left is of a predator. If it were a Sockeye or Kokanee; the rakers are long, fine and close together to strain the plankton from the water (see photo to the right).

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You might also be interest in, Modifying Spoons; The Rest of the Story
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About Kent Cannon

My passion is fishing and hunting as well as traveling throughout the Northwest and writing about those adventures. I was separated from my job a few years ago due to the still ongoing economic downturn. I had spent years working, focusing on things that really were not near and dear to my heart all the while scrambling and climbing to what I perceived as the top. I of course did not realize what I was doing, because I was caught up in the moment, focusing on what I thought was the American dream. Crashing and pushing ever forward like a Lemming headed for a cliff, oblivious the world around me. I was more than a little bitter over loosing my job; it was a good job as far as jobs go and I was making a lot of money so I could live according to the manner in which I wanted to be accustomed. In the process of trying to find another job in an unfavorable economic climate I found something that I had left behind many years ago. I found me! That is how and why I started this website, looking for myself and sharing things that I found along the way. Even though I am older now, suffering a little from arthritis and my hair is now somewhat graying I still have fire in my belly for the next adventure. The more that I seek out my next adventure, the more excited I become!

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