King Salmon

Oncorhynchus tschawytscha

Market Name(s): Chinook salmon, King salmon, Spring salmon, Tyee salmon, Blackmouth salmon

Contact Purchasing
King Salmon
  • Primary Source: Alaska, Oregon, California
  • Season: California, Oregon & Washington troll: April - Sept; Alaska: May - August; Winter troll: Oct - April; Farmed: year-round
  • Primary Fishing Method: Troll, gillnet

Size Range:

Max Size: 100 lbs

Avg. Size: 15-20 lbs

Product forms:

FRESH: H&G, PBO and PBI fillets

FROZEN: H&G, PBO and PBI fillets. SMOKED.

Storage & Handling

Properly handled and well iced at 32°F, kings will remain in good condition for up to 14 days after harvest. Frozen kings will remain in good condition up to a year if stored at -5° to -15°F and well glazed.

Cooking Suggestions

King salmon have the highest oil content of all five species of wild salmon. They are often smoked because the flesh retains its moist characteristic. This much-loved fish is excellent prepared almost any way, though simple, unobtrusive dishes are perfect for letting the natural flavor of the king shine through. Broiling, baking and grilling are all great ways to cook king salmon. Like other salmon, a good marinade before cooking usually works well.

Selling Points

  • Bright red meat and high oil content make kings the most desirable of wild salmon.
  • Wild fish is available fresh almost year-round.
  • Kings offer a premium alternative to farmed salmon.


  • Soft flesh.
  • Crystallization in meat—a sign of thawing and refreezing and/or slow freezing.
  • Pale meat.
  • Bones protruding from belly cavity.
  • Reddish skin.
  • Gaping in fillets.
  • Bruises and blood spots.
  • Net marks on trolled fish.
  • Seal bites and scars.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Largest supplier of highest quality fresh Alaska kings including Copper River fish
  • Able to supply fresh wild king salmon almost year round
  • Location is ideal for shipment of kings from Alaska and West Coast troll and net fisheries
  • Major supplier of frozen and smoked king salmon


The name says it all. The largest and most prized of the wild salmon, kings are what salmon are all about: big, silvery, fighting fish, with a rich red meat. These big fish, which can exceed 100 pounds, range across much of the eastern North Pacific, from the Yukon River in Alaska to the Sacramento River in central California.

The largest king salmon ever caught commercially weighed 126 pounds and was caught in 1949 in a fish trap near Petersburg in Southeast Alaska. Why do kings get so large? They spend more time at sea, in some cases as long as 5 years, compared to 1 to 3 years for other salmon species.

The king of kings is the Yukon River king, a mighty fish that swims 2,000 miles in just 60 days (without eating) to spawn in Canada's Yukon Territory. To swim that far that fast takes a lot of oil: Yukon kings normally have a 25% oil content, compared to 10% for other king salmon. In a good year, more than 100,000 Yukon kings will be caught during the season, which runs from mid-June until early July.

Although kings are big fish, in terms of total tonnage caught the resource is relatively small. In a typical year, king landings run about 15,000 tons, less than 3% of the total wild salmon catch in North America.

These days, the most famous kings come from the Copper River, which is the first wild salmon fishery of the season in Alaska. These fish, which must navigate hundreds of rapids as they swim fish 300 miles upriver, have an oil content almost as high as Yukon kings.

Some of the best kings are caught by trollers off the coasts of California and Oregon. Silvery and bright, these fish are available fresh most of the time from May to October.

Kings are harder to farm than Atlantics, which are more adaptable to being raised in net pens. Despite considerable effort, less than 15,000 tons of kings are farmed in British Columbia and New Zealand.

Troll kings from Alaska are available in the winter from a small fishery that takes place in the inside waters of Southeast Alaska near Sitka. In a typical year, about 30,000 kings are landed in this fishery, which runs from October through April.