The Chinook is known as the king salmon because it is the largest of the salmon group. Chinook are also known as black mouth or screamer for the sound your reel makes when you hook a trophy. Chinook are in Barkley Sound all winter and have their big migration July through September. Thousands of anglers come from all over the world to experience this phenomenon. In the fall thousands of Chinook congregate in front of Port Alberni waiting for the first rains to signal the spawning run up the Somas River.
You can visit local fish hatcheries like Robertson Creek Hatchery to view these salmon underwater behind glass. The Bamfield "wall" to Poetts Nook will ensure a good catch. We like other spots too, like Wouver to Cree, Rainy Bay to the West side of Stud Islets, and Pill Point among others. The Nahmint River, which flows into Barkley Sound, is home of the largest salmon gene in the world. Wisely, the area is now protected by the Department of Fisheries to ensure the future of these majestic creatures.
Chinook can grow to 120 lb and a 62 lb king was caught near Port Alberni in 2014. Their lifespan is on average 4 to 5 years with the occasional salmon reaching 6 or even 7 years old. They are emerald green on top and silver like the coho on the bottom. The tails are spotted top to bottom and their gums and roof of mouth is black. Any salmon over 20 pounds is very likely a Chinook.
Chinook have been here over 5 million years which makes people very new on their block. In this short time we have depleted their numbers and they need protection. Catch and release, a minimum size of 45 cm., and barb less hooks helps to maintain sustainability.