Chinook (King) Salmon

The Chinook salmon (scientifically known as Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is the largest of salmon species found in the Pacific and surrounding waters. In Canada we call it a “Chinook” and down south they call it a “King”. Other nicknames for Chinook is “Spring”, “Blackmouth” and “Tyee”.

Chinook salmon are characterized by a distinctive black gum line along the base of their teeth paired with their larger spots on the back. They are renowned for their incredible size, strength and endurance during their upstream migration to spawn. They have the longest lifespan of the salmon species averaging around 4-5 years, however are many Tyee (greater than 30lbs chinook) that push past those years.

If you want to see a identification diagram of all the pacific salmon species check out this page.

Favorite Way to Fish for Chinook in Rivers

If I’m fishing in a river, my favorite way to target these big salmon is with a float fishing setup. Under the float I like to use a chunk of cured roe on an Octopus #2 hook, if bait is allowed, it’s tough to beat this setup. If bait is not allowed, swap out the roe for single beads. And if you’re looking for a good change-up to make your presentation different from all the other anglers around you, use a tiny silver Colorado blade. I’m serious on a small size, try a blade no larger than a quarter in size and toss that under the same float setup.

Chinook fishing in rivers starts up late August until end of October. The best timing for Chinook fishing is usually around mid September for most rivers in BC. 

River Fishing – Chinook Salmon

Favorite Way to Fish for Chinook in Ocean

If I’m targeting Chinook in the Ocean, typically this is done by trolling. And there are far too many lures, baits, flashers, etc to get into here. But my personal favorite way to target Chinook is by vertical jigging. Using a weighted jig with a bottom fishing setup is so fun and incredibly deadly if you can find the bait/salmon.

Ocean fishing for Chinook can be all year round in BC. However, the best ocean fishing for Chinook is between May to the end of August. Chinook are returning to their local waters, fattening up and staging at their river mouths to move back into fresh water and spawn. In BC, I’d say the hottest time for Chinook fishing is mid July to mid August. 

Vertical jigging chinook salmon with spinning setup

Kayak Ocean Fishing – Chinook Salmon

My Fishing Trips for Chinook Salmon

If you want to see some of the fishing techniques in video form check out these fishing trips for Chinook salmon! And if you like the videos, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. Cheers! Jesse

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