Featured Species

Spring Chinook Salmon
When they first arrive in fresh water, spring Chinook are greenish with paler flanks. As spawning approaches they become grayer and darker; spawning males can almost be black. Their bodies are slender and rounded in cross-section, whereas fall Chinook are more slab-sided; this allows spring Chinook to swim more easily in turbulent, fast-flowing water.

Spring Chinook spend 1-5 years at sea. They migrate upriver from March to May and stay in fresh water for weeks or months before they are ready to spawn. Unlike fall Chinook, spring Chinook prefer to spawn in smaller rivers and side streams. Spring Chinook fry spend over a year living in fresh water, and are aggressive to others of their kind.

Spring Chinook used to outnumber fall Chinook in Columbia River catches 2 to 1, but this is no longer the case. Because their fry spend a long time living in streams, spring Chinook have been especially hard-hit by pollution and siltation of stream habitat. Upriver stocks--those that have to pass through several dams--are very low. Lower river stocks have increased since the 1950s, mainly due to hatchery production.