I have a question about the quality of salmon for eating. I am completely devoid of any salmon knowlege except for what I have read on this forum for the last few months.
I know they start dying and changing color when they hit the fresh water so, when are they no longer good to eat?
Or is it after they degrade so far they are only worth smoking or something like that?
Do the different species stay good longer?
Are some species better than others overall?
I realize this is highly subjective.
I am by no means a salmon expert but I have sampled all 5 species in their various adult stages.
Ocean fresh is, of course, best and in my opinion even pinks and chums are good this way.
Generally, sockeyes are considered the best eating salmon with kings a close second, followed by silvers with pinks and chums tied for last. And generally, with all but pinks, as long as you get them before they spawn they're good. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and experimentation to see what you like best.
Edibilty is a function of flesh quality which is a function of how far from the salt they are when killed. For example Alexander Creek Kings are far fresher and therefore "better" than the "Thousand Mile Kings" caught out of the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks (BTW body size of the 5 species tends to correlate to how far they go to spawn (exceptions such as the Kenai noted))
Salmon quality for eating
We have been sport fishing and eating salmon in AK for 17 years. In my experience, the redder the color of the fish the less firm the meat and the flavor goes down also. The best tasting are what we call "sea bright" or the "chromed" ones. We usually turn back a fish that is more than just a little pink. These are the kings we catch. We usually try to get the reds and silvers as sea fresh as possible.
This is very true I have hear people say that pinks and dogs are no good to eat but i have been fishing for 20 year and it is simple how fresh the fish is. If you pull a pink straight from the ocean, bleed it before it even hits the deck, fillet it right away and cook it they are very good. they are also good for smoking.
Originally Posted by Erik in AK