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Thread: Salmon life cycle egg development in salt water

  1. #1
    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Default Salmon life cycle egg development in salt water

    I've got an odd question, when do female salmon develop their eggs?

    I've been catching a lot of female kings around knight island, when cleaning them I've noticed that the hens have the egg compartments full of eggs, but the eggs are small, like caviar sized eggs, about half to a third of the size of king eggs I've seen at the little su.

    Did some research that said that columbia salmon dont begin to develop their eggs until they hit fresh water, but thats the columbia, not up here.

    So, when do female salmon develop their eggs and prep for spawning, the streams in PWS are kinda short for a prolonged developmental process.

    Or is thats what happening when they school up on front of PWS rivers and streams? Developing their eggs and milt?

    I guess the question is, when is a spawner a spawner and a feeder a feeder?

    Any marine biologists in here?
    2696 Sea Raider Pilothouse
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  2. #2
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    Not a marine biologist by any means, but I've done some work with Kings.
    I think a spawner is a spawner when it begins to make its run back to its spawning stream. Until then its a feeder. Kings return as 3 to 7 year olds, so its hard to say what triggers sexual maturity in their development and what triggers them to return. I would say that the fish are feeders until their internal spawning mechanism is triggered and they decide to return. So you won't always be able to tell if you're catching a spawner or a feeder but usually you can if you read the clues. Location caught, time of year, and size of the ovary/gonads are all clues. I've seen some large king hens brought in with very tiny eggs. Sometimes its hard to find them.
    It sounds like the kings you're catching are approaching maturity judging by the full ovaries. The eggs will continue to grow when they reach fresh water and by the time the eggs ripen, the fish has reached that inedible monster stage we all love. So my question is what king rivers are around knight island that have late runs? Or maybe this fish will return next year? Could it be a fall run fish from BC/lower 48 feeding up here and getting ready to move? These fish travel the farthest and stay out the longest. So interesting. If you ever catch one with a clipped adipose fin, save the head for ADF&G. These fish have coded wire tags in them which will reveal info about the fishes origin.

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    Define spawner. To me it's not a spawner until it's on its redd. Like bigfish alluded to, fish in their last year of life will go from having tiny skeins of eggs with itty bitty eggs to plump, juicy, perfect for bait eggs, to eventually loose eggs no longer held together by connective tissue. It's kind of relative. And the fish you caught could be from a very long ways away.

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    I dont know what the scientific community accepts as the definition of a spawner. I want to look it up but I dont have time. Doesnt really matter anyway. I'd like to know how long it takes those eggs to develop, and if the sign of developing eggs like you describe as being the 'perfect for bait' size (I love eggs that size!) eggs means the fish is in its last year of life and will return to some fresh water. I have a feeling it does- why would the fish shift its energy from muscular growth to ovary growth earlier than it needs to? I'd still have to lean toward spawner in that case: a sexually mature fish. Doesnt matter to me if the fish was stocked in a terminal fishery- it never hits the redd, but its not a feeder. Well, feeds me anyway.....

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    well there's just the one stream in PWS that gets a king run, and its not kinda short... (the copper) so chances are your fish are heading somewhere else possibly even next summer.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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