5+ Amazing Alaska Salmon Species You Should Know About

Alaska offers a variety of wild-caught salmon species, including Chinook, Coho, Pink, Chum, and Sockeye, each with unique flavors and uses.

alaska salmon species

I find salmon to be one of the most delicious meals, especially when I choose just the right species. I’ve discovered some of the best wild-caught salmon comes from Alaska. To truly enjoy wild-caught salmon, I’ve learned about amazing Alaska salmon species.  

There are five types of Alaskan salmon; Chinook, Coho, Pink, Chum, and Sockeye salmon. Each of these species has more than one name. I find the best Alaska salmon in the Pacific Ocean, caught wild, in stark contrast to the commercially available Atlantic salmon, which is farmed.  

When I look for commercial salmon from Alaska, understanding the species, their best uses, and whether they come from the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean helps me get the best fish.  

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What Are The 5 Alaskan Salmon?

There are five types of Alaskan salmon species, each known by multiple names. They are found in the Pacific Ocean and are wild-caught. For commercial purposes, these are the best salmon species; I find them healthier and tastier for cooking and consumption.  

The five Alaskan species I’ve learned about:  

Chinook (King) Salmon  

Chinook Salmon 5+ Amazing Alaska Salmon Species You Should Know About
Salmon Jumping Dam Issaquah Hatrhery Washington. Salmon swim up the Issaquah creek and are caught in the Hatchery. In the Hatchery, they will be killed for their eggs and sperm, which will be used to create more salmon.

I know the Chinook salmon, from the anadromous genus Oncorhynchus species, as one of the most well-known Pacific salmons, also called King salmon. It is the largest species of its kind and grows up to 4.9 feet and 129 pounds as an adult. It also holds the highest fat content of the other five Pacific salmons.  

I consider King salmon to be the tastiest because of the rich flesh and high-fat content. The salmon ranges from white to a deep red color. It is low in sodium and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin B12, protein, and niacin. This salmon has about 3% white meat.  

Chinook salmons spend between 1-7 years at sea. They are the state fish of Alaska, and the name “King” was established because of their size. I use Chinook salmon for commercial, personal use, sport, and subsistence fishery.  

Coho (Silver) Salmon  

Coho Salmon 5+ Amazing Alaska Salmon Species You Should Know About

The Coho salmon, from the anadromous fish species, also known to me as Silver salmon. Cohos are the least abundant salmon in the wild. This salmon species is not big or small; I consider it an in-between fish, growing up to around 35 pounds.  

I find Coho salmon to have a milder flavor than other Alaskan salmon. It is known as one of the healthier salmons with its high anti-inflammatory leaner fats. The fish has an orange-red flesh with a firm texture. Many people, including myself, enjoy Coho salmon because it tastes less fishy and is best for grilling.  

The lifespan of Coho salmon is generally about 3-4 years. They are widespread, more abundant than Chinook, and less numerous than the other Pacific salmon species. Many people, especially those new to seafood or salmon, prefer Coho because of its less gamey flavor.  

Pink (Humpy) Salmon  

Pink Salmon 5+ Amazing Alaska Salmon Species You Should Know About

Pink salmon, also known to me as Humpy or Humpback salmon, is part of the anadromous fish species. Pink salmon is the smallest Pacific salmon and most abundant. They weigh an average of 3.5-5 pounds and grow to around 20-25 inches. The salmon is often recognized by its fully silver skin.  

I find the flavor of Pink salmon light and delicate. It is perfect for grilling and roasting, topped with my favorite sauce. Pink salmon have a two-year lifespan, shorter than all other Pacific salmon.  

The Humpy salmon gets its name “Pink” from its flesh color. It is said that they travel in schools during migration for protection because of their small size.  

Chum (Dog) Salmon  

Chum Salmon 5+ Amazing Alaska Salmon Species You Should Know About
Pacific chum salmon, fresh caught mature male.

Chum salmon, also known to me as Dog or Keta salmon, is from the anadromous fish species. It is also known as Silverbrite, which is its marketing name in Alaska. Chum salmon is the second largest Pacific salmon after Chinook.   

I find Silverbrite salmon delicious and known to be drier than other Pacific salmon species. The taste is mild with a lower fat content, low in sodium, and a source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B 12, niacin, and selenium. It is an underrated fish and is usually caught later in their lives when the flesh has lost much flavor and is softer.  

Chum caught earlier have high-quality flesh, and even their outward appearance is better and fresher. The name “Dog” salmon comes from their large teeth developed during spawning, resembling canine teeth. Keta is its marketing name in North America.  

Sockeye (Red) Salmon  

Sockeye Salmon 5+ Amazing Alaska Salmon Species You Should Know About

Sockeye salmon, also famously known to me as Red salmon, comes from the anadromous fish species. It is considered a versatile salmon because of the texture of its flesh, which I find not as delicate as other salmon species.  

I love how Red salmon is excellent for grilling, baking, and poaching. It is flavorful, prepared in any way, and can withstand various cooking methods. The flavor is rich, unlike other Pacific salmon with milder tastes like Pink salmon.  

It has a relatively high-fat content and is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Sockeye salmon is small with thin, compact fillets. It has a much reddish color compared to most pinkish-orangish salmon colors. Sockeye salmon often becomes a seafood lover’s first choice because of its rich salmon-forward flavor, including mine.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type Of Salmon Is Found In Alaska?  

In Alaska, there are five types of salmon; Chinook, Coho, Pink, Chum, and Sockeye. They are all wild-caught salmon, as fish farming is banned in Alaska.  

What Is The Best-Tasting Salmon?  

The best-tasting salmon would be a matter of personal preference. I often hear Chinook/King salmon labeled as the best tasting. Some people, myself included, find Coho salmon the best because it tastes less gamey and fishy.  

Why Is Wild-Caught Salmon Better?  

I believe wild-caught salmon, as found in Alaska, is better because it is a healthier option. Their diet is natural. They have less fat, fewer calories, and more vitamins and minerals than farmed salmon.  

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