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Thread: White Kings

  1. #1

    Default White Kings

    I fished the Gulkana this past weekend and caught quite a few kings. We kept 5 of them, with some of them starting to change colors. The large bucks still had bright excellent meat. I caught one female that was still chrome and I figured it would have beautiful meat. Upon filleting, the meat turned out to be almost white. I've been searching for information on this and it seems as though it might be a "white king", which apparently is not that uncommon. I've caught hundreds of kings in this watershed and have never seen this. Has anybody else caught a white king in a Copper river tributary?

  2. #2

    Default It is good meat

    If the fish was chrome then what you have is a "white King" I had never heard of them till we did a Spring trip to Homer. We were catching feeder Kings. We caught two of them. We were told they were Canadian fish but as youhave caught them in the Gulkana I guess that was wrong or this one got lost. It was good eating so chow down! Had a different taste than the red meat but was good. Enjoy

  3. #3

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    It was a chrome fish for sure. I read about them online, but was unaware of any being in the Copper drainage system. I might call Fish & Game to see what they have to say.

  4. #4
    Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    I caught one out of the salt in the summer of 2006 and it shocked me during filleting. Never seen one before and haven't since. It was some of the best eating fish I have ever had and would like to get another one someday.

  5. #5
    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    Default white king

    I've caught white kings every where from Homer to Seward, Whittier, Parks Highway etc. over the last 25 years. I have even caught a few white coho. A few things lead to the white meat. The vibrant red and orange flesh in all salmonids is derived from carotenoid pigments, mostly astaxanthin. These pigments are picked up as salmon feed on shrimp, krill, and other crustaceans and amphipods. Some salmon are unable to break down or process these pigments due to some defect in their metabolism. This results in white meat. Another reason is a diet strict on fish (herring, sandlance etc.) and squid. I've caught more than one white silver in a school before, which makes sense. This school fed together for the last x months and their diet consisted of mostly fish. When we found this school of coho, they were chasing a huge school of sandlance. Three silvers were kept from that school of fish and all three were white meat coho. Sockeye salmon are almost strictly plankton, krill, crustacean feeders. Their gill rakers are even built just for these prey. They may eat a herring or two, but the vast majority of their diet are amphipods/plankton. That's the reason why sockeye have the most vibtant red meat of all pacific salmon.

  6. #6
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    You sir have caugt a delicacy!
    If you get the chance to eat white king sushi or sashimi it is FREAKIN AWESOME!!
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...=&pagewanted=2

  7. #7

    Default Yummy King!!

    Sounds good to me!! I just spoke with the biologist in Cordova and he said that they see the commercial guys get them down by the mouth. Now I'm excited to try it out. Thanks for the good information on the white king. Now if I only knew a way to strictly target those, I'd be really happy.

  8. #8

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    I wonder why we get $2 less per pound for them troll caught? I hope that when I gut the fish it is Red, but the chances are if it is big it is White.

    Over 50% of the bigger (30#+)fish I caught in the SE troll opener were white.

  9. #9
    Member sheep man's Avatar
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    White or winter kings are not native to alaska fresh waters,there canadian bound fish,i find that when the fish are starting into there spawning phase you tend to loose the color of the meat,bright or not they tend to change meat color,why i'm not sure,i would guess that some fish break down faster then others...next time you talk to the bio ask him if he's ever heard of white kings spawning in alaskas fresh....

  10. #10
    Member G_Smolt's Avatar
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    FishGod is mostly correct, but the "defect" in question is a double-recessive set of alleles that inhibits metabolic uptake of both Castaxanthin and Astaxanthin.

    White kings occur all over Alaska, both wild and hatchery, but it has been my experience that aquaculture projects seem to artificially inflate the numbers from time to time.

    Mark

  11. #11
    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    Default white kings

    Good infro. ,I've caught a few white's out of Seldovia in the salt. Never heard all the above, just that they didn't eat shrimp. Good stuff.

  12. #12
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G_Smolt View Post
    FishGod is mostly correct, but the "defect" in question is a double-recessive set of alleles that inhibits metabolic uptake of both Castaxanthin and Astaxanthin.
    The ability of a salmon to store the red-orange pigment carotene in its fat cells is controlled genetically. So a sockeye salmon (red) stores carotene in its fat cells, and a chum salmon metabolizes it into a colorless Vitamin A. For a chinook salmon, flesh color is determined by two genes in a duplicate recessive gene interaction. Here is a list that will help explain this. It comes from an ADF&G publication. The genotype is the combination of capital and small case letters and the flesh color is defined.

    AA,BB -red flesh color,

    AABb - red,
    AA,bb - white,
    Aa,BB - red,
    Aa,Bb - red,
    Aa,bb - white,
    aa,BB-white,
    aa,Bb-white,
    aa,bb - white.

    You can see from this that if a dominant gene (A and B) are both present then the flesh color is red.

    The genes for white kings are rare in Alaska. A higher percentage is found in the Pacific Northwest.

    How red a fish is or just a pink color depends on the amount of pigment in their diet. However, a white king cannot become a red king no matter the diet because the genes controlling the process are not available.

    Good discussion about this topic a couple years back here:

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...=6900#post6900



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  13. #13
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    Default White Kings Are Primo!

    Congratulations on your white King, snowcamoman. I don't know where Sheep Man got his information about white only being "Canadian" - there are whites in varying percentages in most of the Gulf of Alaska king-producing Rivers. We get a sizeable number of white Kings here in SE - the Taku, Stikine, and the Chilkat Rivers produce them (a much higher percentage of whites come from the latter drainage).

    The flavor of a white King is much richer than is the case with a red - have a spray bottle of water handy when and if you barbeque your fish because they are VERY oily and you'll have a grill fire going in no time. Back in pre-WWII days when nearly all commercially harvested King salmon were "split" (filleted), salted, and put into wooden barrels (tierces) on most of the larger river systems - the reds were preferred because their flesh not only looked more like a piece of salmon when it was removed from the tierce but the white's high oil content made it difficult to salt-preserve their splits and they had a tendency to turn rancid if not salted properly.

    Anyway, the white-fleshed King may be a novelty to some fishermen, but to everyone I know that fishes for Kings they are a delicacy. Good luck with your grilling and enjoy that fish! Good fishing.

  14. #14

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    All we get in Lake Superior are white kings, they have planted a few of the red kings, but they have not taken off. Lake Superior kings are good, but the red ones i have caught in Alaska are better (to me) than the whites we get here. Could be the fact that they are different than what you are used to makes them seem better. also could be the fact that they only see fresh water here that makes them better in Alaska...

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by FishGod View Post
    I've caught white kings every where from Homer to Seward, Whittier, Parks Highway etc. over the last 25 years. I have even caught a few white coho. A few things lead to the white meat. The vibrant red and orange flesh in all salmonids is derived from carotenoid pigments, mostly astaxanthin. These pigments are picked up as salmon feed on shrimp, krill, and other crustaceans and amphipods. Some salmon are unable to break down or process these pigments due to some defect in their metabolism. This results in white meat. Another reason is a diet strict on fish (herring, sandlance etc.) and squid. I've caught more than one white silver in a school before, which makes sense. This school fed together for the last x months and their diet consisted of mostly fish. When we found this school of coho, they were chasing a huge school of sandlance. Three silvers were kept from that school of fish and all three were white meat coho. Sockeye salmon are almost strictly plankton, krill, crustacean feeders. Their gill rakers are even built just for these prey. They may eat a herring or two, but the vast majority of their diet are amphipods/plankton. That's the reason why sockeye have the most vibtant red meat of all pacific salmon.
    All of this is correct. Lake superior lake trout meat varies between white, yellow, and vibrant orange depending on what the fish have been eating. There is a 200 acre pit I fish that is 650' deep that has a ton of rainbows and lake trout in it, but no feed fish. They live on water daphnia (tiny bugs) and crayfish. The meat is RED, and the best eating out of any fsh in the state. The white kings probably are primarily fish eaters for a long time. I have had some out of Sitka before, and they are delicious but shocking at the filet table. Enjoy!

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by dayooper View Post
    All we get in Lake Superior are white kings, they have planted a few of the red kings, but they have not taken off. Lake Superior kings are good, but the red ones i have caught in Alaska are better (to me) than the whites we get here. Could be the fact that they are different than what you are used to makes them seem better. also could be the fact that they only see fresh water here that makes them better in Alaska...
    All we catch here is the red meat kings, but they lose their color before they spawn in the rivers.

  17. #17

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    Anyone want to venture a guess as to why a higher % of big fish are white?
    One of the locale processors that does charter fish has noticed this as well.
    For instance when a group of fish is caught from the same bay, point, flat ect... a high % of the top 25% of those fish will be white.

    Is this a Sitka thing or does this seem to hold true in your chunk of AK?

  18. #18

    Default

    Wow, there's a lot of information on this discussion, now I feel pretty lucky to have caught one in the Gulkana. It was a pretty large hen, but I don't have a clue why the White Kings would be larger than typical Kings. Even the eggs from this fish looked different than other hen's eggs. They looked a bit larger and lighter colored to me. They're curing up now, but I should have taken a photo of the eggs.

  19. #19
    Member sheep man's Avatar
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    Eggs will get larger as the hen gets closer to spawning,once again there is a strain of white kings in BC. there not common in alaska fresh waters,yes you can catch white kings in salt water all over S.E.homer,seward etc....

  20. #20
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    Default Ivory Kings

    Was lucky enough to catch an ivory king down in Juneau a few years ago. Absolutely the most awesome fish I've eaten. Everything from bbq to pan fry to sashimi. Out of this world... Now, each time I return to fish, I always ask for an ivory...the guides tease me and say I don't ask for much. I tell them, "Sorry, but you spoiled me with the first one...".
    Enjoy your fish...you've caught a rare and lucky treat...

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