Commonly called ‘king’ salmon because they are the largest of the Pacific salmon species, they are about 36” long and average 15 to 20 pounds. Seeing them in the fish ladder viewing gallery they are easily distinguished from the sockeye by the spots on their back and tail (sockeye have no spots.) The Chinook will also be larger and sometime have an olive green sheen on their bodies. The run will peak around the second week of August.
About 80% of the Lake Washington Ship Canal Chinook run is returning to the hatchery in Issaquah, the other 20% of the run will return to whichever river or stream where they were hatched 3-5 years ago. Hatchery fish are identifiable by the absence of their adipose fin (the tiny fin in front of the tail;) this fin is clipped off in the hatchery before the fish is released. Wild Chinook salmon are on the Threatened Species List.
Chinook salmon range along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California and they are prized as both a commercial and as a sport fish.