Salmon Spawning Season: When to Maximize Your Efforts

The salmon spawning season is the period when the fish leave their saltwater habitat, and return to the freshwater environment where they were born, to lay their eggs. The salmon reach sexual maturity and are ready to spawn by the time they arrive at their native stream.

Salmon species can be divided into 2 major categories: the Atlantic and the Pacific types. Five kinds of Pacific salmon are particular to North America. These are the chinook or king, coho or silver, sockeye, chum and pink salmon. The spawning season is different for each variant.

Salmon spawning time

Atlantic salmon reproduce from November to December. Cohos, chums and sockeyes spawn during fall, although not at the same time. Pink salmon also lay eggs in autumn, but mostly only on the odd-numbered years. Chinooks reproduce in spring, summer and fall.

Salmon spawning locations

Where the salmon lay their eggs depend on the species as well. Chinooks favor the mainstream and the large tributaries of big rivers, while cohos usually go to the middle reaches of small streams, and the small tributaries of big rivers.

Chums choose to spawn at the lower reaches of small streams. The lower reaches of big rivers are typically where pink salmon prefer to reproduce.

Salmon spawning behavior

Salmon change shape and color as they transition from their saltwater habitat to their freshwater natal home. The fish also stop feeding and subsist on stored body fat instead. Male salmon develop curved mouths with large teeth, and some form a hump on their back. Females do not go through such physical transformations, although their color does become different.

The water’s temperature influences the length of time needed for the eggs to hatch. This often occurs in one to three months, although it may take longer. Some species of salmon will relocate to a saltwater home a few weeks after hatching, while others remain in the freshwater environment for a year or two.

Salmon spawning is the final stage in the life cycle of a Pacific salmon, which die after breeding is completed. Atlantic salmon, on the other hand, may survive and return to the ocean, continue growing and reproduce for a second and third time.

When is the best to fish for salmon

It is illegal in most states to disrupt salmon spawning. In any case, fish in the reproduction stage are no longer good for eating. Besides that, it will be hard to lure salmon at this time because they are no longer feeding. The best ones to catch are those fresh out of saltwater.

The most favorable time to catch salmon would be a month or two before the annual salmon run. April is a good fishing month in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. In Oregon, the Tillamook Bay and Umpqua River are full of salmon in May and June.

You can check for good fishing areas within your state. Make sure you are familiar with the pool, river or bay where you plan to go fishing. Determine where the salmon gather and know their patterns. The fish will bite when they are bored but hungry.