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View Full Version : Why are Chetco Salmon So Big?



dsa2780
07-26-2014, 10:00 PM
Okay, so I was sitting at work the other day stacking boxes and zoning out when I started thinking about how big Chetco River Salmon are. In comparison to salmon from most other rivers on the west coast, they seem to run a bit larger than the average chinook. I'd say in CA we consider a Jack to be anything under 12lbs, a buck or hen anything from 13-25lbs and a "hawg" is anything that goes 25lbs plus. Same goes for a lot of PNW rivers.

I mean here are some pics of Chetco salmon. Sure, they're guide taken photos and they could not accurately represent the size of the population, but I've seen way more massive ones come from there than most any other river.

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS5yBUHlJBTVuoCPAq2paB78tEL3-JIjpQTeNhKzuRw_-Uhfg6Z

http://fishwithjd.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Screen-Shot-2011-11-22-at-8.00.49-PM1.png

http://www.earlyfishing.com/Images/1wcpic.jpg

http://www.nwwildcountry.com/Photos/Chetco%20opener%201.jpg




Now, here are some Sac system salmon.

https://encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQVcalGJVzXSNCrkL7RvPGPi_IMUDG5w FpRIAD7oI2co_hmFXYw


http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTDY-o7RoIayiFDnNTRDCwlDkk1d0PiM6HkrQWv5C9PStvmHS-cNA



We still get a few fish that are reported as going over 35lbs every year with the occasional 40 even being pulled out in the early winter and a guy pulled an upper 30 out of the AR last year, but for the most part, to me at least, it seems like we get a lot of the smaller jacks and run of the mill 20lb class fish.

I'm not going to complain about that,and hey, there's always that random fish like this one found along the sac.


http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/the_swarm/giant-salmon-battle-creek-1.jpg





So, anyone have any speculation as to why the salmon pulled out of the Chetco are so large? Smaller system so more fish are encountered? Better forage supply? Closer to the ocean so the fish deteriorate less? Or is it just simply put, better genetic stock? I mean we used to have the June hogs here in CA that put the modern chetco pig to shame.....

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/Chinook_salmon,_Astoria_Oregon_circa_1910.jpg



http://www.skysguideservice.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/JuneHogsBlogPic2-195x250.jpg



So, Salmonid, got any info? I was just curious and finally decided to post my questions.

Brickinthewall98
07-26-2014, 10:09 PM
Interesting post. Now u got me wondering.


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QueenAnnesRevenge
07-27-2014, 03:54 AM
Because plugs catch bigger fish than a tiny bead on a 20' leader. Haha
Too early to do a little stirring?

salmonid
07-27-2014, 06:11 AM
Good question dsa.

Kenai, Chetco, Elk are some of the rivers with the big hogs. The official "June hogs" returned to the upper Columbia but the construction of Grand Coulee dam made them extinct (no fish passage).

Size depends on how long they stay in the ocean; the extra year(s) means more weight. No doubt it's in their genes!

I want to do a study to find the "hog" gene. We need two river systems in close proximity where one river has dinks and the other has hogs. Sequencing the genomes of fish from each should help us find the BIG gene.

Best,

QueenAnnesRevenge
07-27-2014, 07:36 AM
Hey salmon I'd
Could you start bringing down some 5 year cycle kings from Alaska or Bc and start a breeding program
I'd buy a Tyee stamp to fund your project
[emoji6]

Fishing Fanatic
07-27-2014, 08:55 AM
That upper 30 in the at was my cousins Boyfriend, 38 pounds

dsa2780
07-27-2014, 09:10 AM
Good question dsa.

Kenai, Chetco, Elk are some of the rivers with the big hogs. The official "June hogs" returned to the upper Columbia but the construction of Grand Coulee dam made them extinct (no fish passage).

Size depends on how long they stay in the ocean; the extra year(s) means more weight. No doubt it's in their genes!

I want to do a study to find the "hog" gene. We need two river systems in close proximity where one river has dinks and the other has hogs. Sequencing the genomes of fish from each should help us find the BIG gene.

Best,


I figured it was all in the genetics. I know most of the June Hogs used to run in the Columbia but I thought I had read that we had a run of fish that averaged 40-60lbs here in the Sac as well during the 1800's. Possibly not though. Think it matters if they're eating different forage? A more herring heavy diet perhaps? I know some of the Salmon off the CA coast are pretty fond of foraging on baby rockfish, but I'm sure that is only a very small part of their diets.

By no means am I complaining about the salmon we have in the sac lol.

@fanatic, that's pretty cool. Big fish for that river for sure. Pretty sure Cal said he lost one that was more than likely pushing mid 30's on the AR one day.

salmonid
07-28-2014, 05:32 PM
There are big fish in every river, but on most rivers they are kinda few and far between. The Sac is not a slouch at all. The Klamath on the other hand kind of seems to average smaller fish.

Nutrition has some bearing of course. But I don't think that is the major factor. Some fish from various rivers intermingle out in the ocean and eat the same forage (for example).

Also, the small fish aren't really inferior either, but rather the fish are adapted to each river for maximum reproductive success. So smaller fish do have an advantage on some river systems for whatever reason.

I'll try to post some links and papers with more info this week.

Best,