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Thread: How long do mature Salmon survive in freshwater before dying?

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    Default How long do mature Salmon survive in freshwater before dying?

    Have a peculiar question about how long a mature salmon can live in rivers and lakes before finally dying. Read that it is usually around 5-6 weeks or so with most runs. I guess it depends on species and population of course. One run that comes to mind are those Kenai winter silvers. They must really load up on fat before going up the river since they will spend several months swimming around. Why don't they just wait it out in the ocean and then run upstream to spawn? Any other runs that do the same sort of thing?


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    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimjn View Post
    Why don't they just wait it out in the ocean and then run upstream to spawn? Any other runs that do the same sort of thing?

    Silvers spawn in the Kenai from Late September till the first week of April. Keep in mind, fish are cold blooded animals. Since silvers enter so late in the year, the water temperature is much lower. This means that their egg development process is much slower due to the lower water temperatures. This also correlates with caloric processing. They don't burn as many calories due to the lower metabolic rate.
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    Pinks and chums do not last long. Pinks start to morph almost immediately. Seems like once they even smell fresh water they start to change. You can even catch pinks in the salt that are getting their spawning colors already. Chums within a few days. Kings, reds, and silvers will remain chrome for a while once they get in fresh water and stay alive a lot longer. Like FishGod said, silvers spawn all the way through april in the kenai.
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    salmon will often enter the river when they can for instance early fall in the PacNW then hang out untill conditions are right for them to spawn... And think about the upper yukon and redfish lake salmon, they travel thousands of miles, and that takes them a few months!

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  5. #5

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    Thanks guys for the education. Very interesting all. Still somewhat puzzled though. As I understand it the upper Kenai doesn't freeze usually in winter. That would mean the water is warmer than most other south central rivers. If cold water delays spawning, shouldn't we see a lot more streams that have these "winter" runs? I must definitely be missing something. Any one know the life history of juvenile fish of these winter fish? When do they hatch and how long is their fresh water residence?

    This is all so cool to me!

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    Member Raptor_1's Avatar
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    IIRC, eggs hatch within 30-40 days. Species like silvers, reds, and kings will stay in the fresh water streams for about 2 years. Chum and pinks fry migrate to the salt after hatching and hang out in the tide water until they are big enough to venture out into the open ocean.
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