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Thread: Kenai whites

  1. #1
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default Kenai whites

    .... kings, that is.

    Do they exist? And if so, just how RARE are they? I've been at the game for 4 decades and have never seen or touched one, nor have any of the folks in my circle of Kenai die-hards.

    There's a discussion on the saltwater board about white kings in AK rivers. There's a handful of streams in SE-AK, generally trans-boundary rivers originating in Canada, that regularly produce white kings.

    White kings are taken in Cook Inlet and Homer, but these are virtually all feeder fish that originated elsewhere.

    And pale white-fleshed black-bellied Kenai fire-engines are taken every year in the middle river, but those obviously don't count.

    Just curious, have any of you veteran Kenai king fishermen ever encountered a true white-fleshed chromer king?
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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    never seen one, let alone did I know they were in the river.

  3. #3

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    We caught a white king on the lower Kenai 10 years ago, but it was a jack....so maybe not the example you are looking for.

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    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    I'll add the qualifier ADULT Kenai whites and that for the purposes of this discussion, jacks don't count. As a whole they are more pale-meated than their adult siblings, particularly so for the legal sub-20" jacks which often have nearly white meat because of minimal ocean foraging.
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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    Oh by the way I forgot to mention, I have personally caught one on the willow around 95 or 96. I wouldn't say the meat was white more like a pale pink maybe????? but more white then the color of a pink salmon, not the typical color of fish I was used to seeing, the fish was chrome caught at the mouth on memorial day weekend.

  6. #6
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Bonafide whites....

    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    The KeenEye MD

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    Member klickman's Avatar
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    never seen one or heard of them out of the river. Hear of a few out of the inlet every year.

    KLICKMAN

  8. #8

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    I have fished the Kenai for 35 years. I have killed or seen many dead kings and I have never seen a white one in the Kenai. However, as you mentioned, we catch lots of white feeders in the lower inlet.

  9. #9

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    I used to fish the Kenai religiously for kings back 10 years ago and more and I never even heard of white kings until I started fishing out of Homer. So I certainly never caught a white king in the Kenai and never heard of anyone doing it, either. Not saying is wasn't done, but I never heard of it. And I had a good friend that guided for kings on both the Kenai and Kasilof and I certainly never heard of him talking about white kings.

    They do seem to be a little more abundant in Kachemak Bay this year and for the last couple of years. This isn't scientific, but I'd be willing to bet conservatively that at least 1 out of 6 or 7 winter kings (if not more) I've caught this winter have been white. Got a 29 pounder just last week. I'm delighted when I catch one these days, but not surprised.
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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    Doc as best as I can recall that is pretty close to the color of the meat of the fish I caught. So what is the significance of a king with white meat? On the Kenai or any other place? Are they not supposed to be here or are they just that rare?

  11. #11
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    If one is ever caught in the Kenai, I believe it is VERY significant. A genetic white king is simply NOT a product of the native Kenai chinook gene pool that one would typically encounter. They are so incredibly RARE that there's really only two reasonable explanations that a white king could end up in the Kenai..... either a genetic mutation or a horribly lost stray.

    The infinitesimal odds of catching a Kenai white probably aren't far behind the odds of catching the next world record king.
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    With all the years of Coded Wire Tagging by departments from California right up to Alaska, straying rates are actually higher one would expect but are often by rivers in proximity to each other, however there are no populations anywhere near the Kenai with white king components. So while not impossible for a white to stray there, it is indeed very unlikely.

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    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    A suggestion for Mutt or Huntress. You guys regulaly catch both white and red kings. Look them over well and see if there is any outward differences. Also, maybe a scale sample from each to F&G may produce some answers.

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    Member kenaibow fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch It View Post
    With all the years of Coded Wire Tagging by departments from California right up to Alaska, straying rates are actually higher one would expect but are often by rivers in proximity to each other, however there are no populations anywhere near the Kenai with white king components. So while not impossible for a white to stray there, it is indeed very unlikely.
    So I wonder if the one I caught was a stray as well? I mean I honestly haven't thought much of it until I saw this thread, and I can remember at the time I thought the meat was bad, but it passed the finger testů..I ended up having my mom smoke it and it tasted normal as I recall.

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    I would surmise it was indeed a stray, considering the amount of whites caught in the winter feeder fishery just south in Homer, it wouldn't be hard for a fish to nose into the Kenai that was from a southern population. Where whites occur they are a pretty stable component of the run, almost never the majority but also not rare.

  16. #16
    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    A genetic mutation is more likely than a stray in the Kenai or surrounding waters.
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