Information about: Salmon

Index | Salmon

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Salmon. A well-known fish, forming the type of the family Salmonidae. The salmon inhabits both salt and fresh waters, and ranks prominent among the food fishes of the United States and other countries. The Atlantic salmon attains a length of from three to four feet, and an average weight of from twelve to thirty pounds, but these limits of size and weight are frequently exceeded. It usually continues in the shallows of its native stream for two years after hatching, and during this period it attains a length of eight inches. In this stage it is called a parr. When the season of its migration arrives, generally between March and June, the fins have become darker and the fish has assumed a silvery hue. It is now known as a smolt. The smolts now congregate into shoals and proceed leisurely seaward. On reaching the estuary they remain in its brackish water for a short time and then make for the open sea. Leaving its native river as a fish, weighing it may be not more than two ounces, the smolt, after an absence varying from a few months to two years, returns to hesh water as a grilse, weighing four or five pounds. In the grilse stage the fish is capable of depositing eggs. After spawning in the fresh water the grilse again seeks the sea in the autumn, and when its second stay in the ocean is over it returns after a few months' absence as the adult salmon, weighing from eight to ten pounds. The salmon returns as a rule to the river in which it passed its earlier existence. The fertility of the fish is enormous. Salmon are caught by the rod, and by means of nets. For purposes of commercial supply they are taken in nets of special construction and of various forms, the fishings being regulated by law not only as to their seasons and times, but also as to the forms and dispositions of the machines for the capture of the fishes. There are important fisheries in some European and North American rivers. In Europe the fish is found between the latitudes of 45° and 75°, in North America in corresponding latitudes. The flesh of the salmon when fresh is of a bright orange color, and is of highest flavor when taken from the sea-feeding fish. In the waters of northwestern America are several salmon belonging to a distinct genus, including the quinnat or king-salmon, blue-back salmon or red-fish, silver salmon, dog salmon, and humpbacked salmon. The quinnat has an average weight of twenty-two pounds, but sometimes reaches 100 pounds. Both it and the blue-back salmon are caught in immense numbers in the Columbia, Sacramento, and Frazer (especially in spring), and are preserved by canning.