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Thread: White Kings

  1. #1
    Member Tomcat's Avatar
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    Exclamation White Kings

    Anyone ever catch a mature salmon that had white or extremely pale pink flesh? If so, must have been a shock and rather disappointing.

    I haven't had any experiences, but have heard that it occurs more often than anglers would like to believe. Evidently, this anomaly is most common in kings.

    Wonder if it happens more frequently in certain streams or if it's a statewide genetic issue?

    Is there a difference in taste or texture of the meat? I suppose these fish are still decent tablefare despite appearing off-color.

    Would be interested in hearing about member encounters with white kings, as well as some of the theories on the cause of this phenonmenon.

  2. #2

    Default White vs Red

    Disappointed with a White! - You gotta be kidding. Most locals consider it superior to red.

    Where do they occur? In southeast, the wild stocks returning to the Taku and Stikine Rivers have a fair number of white fleshed kings. I'd say in the 10-15% of total range. Not sure about the Chilkat run.

    Why? I'm not sure folks really know for sure. I've heard two theories: (1) genetics and (2) diet. The diet theory says that fish eating some krill or shrimp will have the pink flesh and those eating only baitfish will have white flesh. I worked a number of summers at the local salmon bake here in J-town. I saw, on several occasions, kings with both white and red flesh - basically zebra striped with alternative colors on muscle bands. I've also seen where a white king will turn to a blush pink color towards the tail. When fresh troll caught kings were in short supply, we sometimes served white kings to tourists. They thought we were trying to pull one on them. About half simply refused to accept it even tho we'd tell them they were king salmon.

    I've heard one occurance of a white Coho (Taku River genetics.) I would consider this extremely rare.

    Earlier this sping I BBQ'ed both a white and red. I didn't have the blindfold on, but there's really not much difference. Most folks consider the white to be richer and oilier. One of these days I'll have to conduct a true blindfold test.

    MM

  3. #3

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    I've caught a few White Kings in Cook Inlet and prefer them over any other colored meat.

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    Default The other "white" meat

    I'd give all the red kings away for white kings.... Gotta love 'em... Cut into steaks with a little Johnny's seafood seasoning and grilled with a little olive oil. Time to go fishing!

  5. #5

    Default

    I'll trade three red kings for a white any day. We catch them regularly in saltwater, but I've never run across one in fresh. By actual measure, the oil content in whites is quite a bit higher than red. I know of two people who have set their smokehouses on fire with dripping oil from white kings. If you love sweet salmon oil, there is nothing better than a white.

  6. #6
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    Default White Kings

    I have caught several from Willow Creek. They supposedly have more? oil in them and are considered better eating. I have eaten quite a few of the white fillets and they are good table fare, but my wife is a superb cook and I think she could make a piece of drift wood taste wonderful.

  7. #7
    Member Tomcat's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Wow, I'm surprised to hear that white kings are so highly regarded. If I'm fortunate enough to catch one, I'll be sure to treat it like gold.

    I'm a firm believer that the taste of the fish is directly linked to the oil content in the flesh. More is better.

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    Default

    I've caught a fair number of them around Petersberg..........They are darn good eating, can't say they are any better or worse than a fresh (chromer) red king though, not to my taste bud's anyway!

    -Ron

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    Default

    Used to catch them when I commercial trolled out of Sitka back in the 70's and 80's. Were they worth a $1 a pound less then red kings, not in my opinion.
    Allen Glore

  10. #10
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    Default Caught White Kings in ketchikan

    I caught some white kings while I lived in Ketchikan, They tasted great. Caught one small jack white, stuffed and grilled whole and it was amazing. Saw a rich couple come off a charter with a large white king, they where not pleased it was a white king until the lodge owner called it a pearl king instead of white and then they thought it was great. It is all in how it is percieved by the people. I have heard but no first hand knowledge that in some parts of BC they are more abundant than the pink flesh.

    Eric

  11. #11
    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Default genetics

    white kings lack the ability to metabolize carotene into the color red, thus they have no red pigment at all. the roe is yellowish, and when spawning they are a yellow-green instead of red.
    they are, as was mentioned, more common in SE and especially from the Taku river south.
    personally i think there is nothing to compare to a fat white king in the winter....like eating butter!!...we usually eat a 1/2 a pound of shoulder meat raw while we are waiting for the rest to come off the grill.
    interesting to hear that there are a few in willow creek. when my wife was working the weir on deep creek years ago she passed a couple through one day.
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  12. #12

    Default the newest rage

    I have heard that white king is now considered a delicasy in the high society circles and actually sells for more than the red meat in some markets.

    Its all in the marketing. Same great tast and texture if you ask me.

    Cheechako Bill

  13. #13
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    Default

    I Have Caught 10's Of Them The Last Couple Years Around Juneau, A Unuasually High Number Compared To Other Places I've Fished, Don't Know If Its Genetics In The Taku/stikine Or The Hatcheries Are Purposely Trying To Produce More Of This Fish, Have Caught Several That Were Half And Half As Well Kinda Like A Dixie Cup Swirl Of White/red,

    Depending On Who You Ask You'll Get A Different Answer On The Quality, Like One Member Said Commerical Fisherman Used To Get Less For Them And Mostly Discarded Them, Now They Get More, Its All Marketing Sceme To Make More Money Kinda Like The Whole Copper River Scam, And Hats Off To Them For That, In Today's World People Will Pay More For Something If You Can Make It Seem Special Or Rare, Personally I Don't Think Either One Is Better Than The Other Humper Says
    It Depends On The Cook

    If You Were Blindfolded And Had The Two Prepared The Same In Front Of You I Don't Think You'd Be Able To Taste The Difference

    Don't Buy Into That White King Is Better,


    And If You Get Tired Of Salmon

    Try Seal Meat

    Humper

  14. #14

    Default White Kings

    Wow years agao I caught a smaller King in the Chena that had white, almost opaque looking, meat. I thought it was just because the fish were pretty beat by the time they got to the interior. I just threw it away figuring it was rotten. It looked pretty disgusting and I'm not sure why anyone would even find it appealing tablefare. But.....Even knowing what I do now, I'd still trash em! Nothing like a dipnet Red anyway!

  15. #15
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default the biology behind white kings

    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.


  16. #16
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    Default genetics

    Interesting stuff...

    So if the white kings can't store carotene, thus carotenoids

    I am guessing they are less nutritious???

  17. #17
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    Default

    Don't confuse an ocean genetic white king with a fire engine red king that has been in the freshwater so long the meat has turned white, different deal!

  18. #18

    Default white king sashimi

    Raw thinly sliced fresh white king is some of the best sushi in the world. It has far superior flavor and texture then the red king and is a delicasy in the sushi houses, Chef

  19. #19
    Member fishNphysician's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by viktor
    Raw thinly sliced fresh white king is some of the best sushi in the world. It has far superior flavor and texture then the red king and is a delicasy in the sushi houses, Chef
    I'm sure the reason they are so in demand among the sushi chefs is the fat content. These white kings are absolute butterballs.... both inside and out.... built like stumpy footballs and just dripping with oil.... even the back pieces!

    Makes me think that the enzyme needed to store carotene in the fat cells has something to do with their overall lipid metabolism and their ability to store massive amounts of fat in their flesh.

    BTW, smoked collars from a white king are to die for.
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  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician
    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.

    White Kings must me more prevalent in WA because I have caught Kings my entire life in OR and have never seen or heard of one until I moved to AK last year, and here they are spoken of commonly.
    Hike faster. I hear banjo music.

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