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Thread: Salmon-Quality Table Fare

  1. #1

    Default Salmon-Quality Table Fare

    As a newbie, I have plenty of questions regarding river run salmon and the bare minimum equipment necessary to provide protein for the soul. I have a collection of spinners and spoons (size 1 to 5) and will be getting an 8-9’ spinning rod/reel setup. Probably 12# mono unless convinced otherwise. Not targeting Kings but I won’t throw them back if regulations and gear allow landing it.

    However the most important questions are: bright salmon are table fare and how much color change occurs before the taste degrades?? Is there an approximate rule of thumb for the miles of river/stream that these changes start?? Do changes occur later the farther up stream the salmon spawns and sooner the closer to the ocean??

  2. #2
    Member Goon's Avatar
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    Your equipment should be just fine to catch all species other then Chinook. For your other question, different species of salmon will start to show color at different times. For example, pink salmon start to show spawning characteristics much faster than others. In addition, some silvers, kings, ect will show colors based upon the river that they will return. As far as taste, this is up to the person eating them. There are quite a few people who will eat them in spawning stages. Some like to smoke them and claim they taste just fine. I think it is up to you to decide which table fare you are willing to eat.

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    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Table fare?

    Yes, very subjective and totally depends on what level of degradation your palate is willing to tolerate. It's ALL edible, but not necessarily palatable.

    I would suggest looking at scales and slime as the best indicator.

    Thin almost imperceptible slime coat and scales that fly like confetti from the landing net means a salmon caught at its palatable prime.

    Thick ropey slime and scales that are firmly embedded in the skin (worse yet, fused and absorbing into the skin) pretty much means it's gonna eat like crap.

    Try this stepwise test

    1) Take a dry cloth and wipe the fish against the grain (tail to head). If the scales wipe off leaving large denuded patches, bonk it for the box. Don't even think about releasing it... fish is good as dead regardless.
    2) If scales don't wipe off as in 1) above use the back edge of a knife or your fingernails or any other convenient edge and stroke the fish against the grain. If some scales flake off, that's still a decent eater... bonk it.
    3) If it fails test 2) above, let it spawn.
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    Learn to identify the sex. I have found that with silvers a male that has started to blush or tint will still eat very well but the same species in female will have white blotchy flesh and taste (for me) has diminished drastically. Sockeye I haven't spent time with as I get my freezer packed when they are chrome.

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    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    +1, when it comes to keeping any salmon with a little color, the male's meat is always in better condition. I've compared females and males with the same maturation coloration and the male's meat is always darker while the female's is lighter. The pigments in the meat really get sucked out of the hens earlier than males, which is utilized for egg development.
    Your bait stinks and your boat is ugly

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    From my experience, species specific rates apply. I have found that kings or sockeyes with a touch of color (and I'm talking a slight blush to the belly or some kype development) are often still OK to eat. Coho's on the other hand, if I see anything that doesn't scream chrome, I put em back. Have tried to stretch it with coho a few times and the meat was mush and separated each time. I don't eat pink or chum but of the big three, coho easily turn inside faster.

    This was Bristol Bay, could be water specific as well.

  7. #7

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    this has been a big help...

    but could they still be in decent shape fifty or hundred miles upstream?

    Eyeing the Penn Battle 4000 with 30# braid and flourocaron leader with St Croix 8'6" Triumph

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    Quote Originally Posted by nuskovich View Post
    this has been a big help...

    but could they still be in decent shape fifty or hundred miles upstream?

    Eyeing the Penn Battle 4000 with 30# braid and flourocaron leader with St Croix 8'6" Triumph
    Personally, I'd skip the braid for casting situations. I've enjoyed using it for backtrolling but anything I need to cast for, or have the high chance of snagging up, I prefer mono. 17-25 pound for bigger fish/fast water.....12-14 for easier areas. Lots of opinions on the tackle end of things, and there's mine.

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    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nuskovich View Post
    this has been a big help...

    but could they still be in decent shape fifty or hundred miles upstream?

    Eyeing the Penn Battle 4000 with 30# braid and flourocaron leader with St Croix 8'6" Triumph
    Oh yeah, it just depends on how fast they are moving upstream. The Russian River, which is a popular spot, is 74 miles from the mouth. Plenty of chrome fish have been caught there. I've actually seen sea lice on a silver up there a few years back. That fish was hauling butt!
    Your bait stinks and your boat is ugly

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