Can you eat spawning salmon?

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When is salmon too dark to eat?
 
rogerdodger

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the way I see it, the darker it is, the better it is! darker orange that is. lol

FYI- this is the coho buck that I'm holding in my avatar.
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this is the coho buck that I'm holding in my avatar.

Well, if that bright fish in your hands is a spawning salmon, then what is this black thing? )

Spawning chinook salmon
 
rogerdodger

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Well, if that bright fish in your hands is a spawning salmon, then what is this black thing? )

well, it has left the ocean, is in fresh water, showing some red, and is less than 1 km from it's spawning beds, so I think it could be considered a spawning salmon. lol

I guess your question wasn't clear and thus open to silly replies.

are you asking about salmon that are still on their way to spawn but are getting close and gross? or after they have spawned and are 'zombies'?
 
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well, it has left the ocean, is in fresh water, showing some red, and is less than 1 km from it's spawning beds, so I think it could be considered a spawning salmon. lol
true)
are you asking about salmon that are still on their way to spawn but are getting close and gross?
Yeah, if "spawning salmon" are fish that entered fresh water, then where is that line between "it's still good for eating" and "it's not".
or after they have spawned and are 'zombies'?
And that is another question - can post-spawning salmon be in "still good for eating" shape?
 
rogerdodger

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I think we can eliminate post-spawning salmon from this discussion because I doubt they could be legally caught, noting that in Oregon it is unlawful to "Remove from streams carcasses or parts of salmon and steelhead not legally taken" and that to be legally taken, in addition to all the regs in force at the location, game fish must always be "hooked inside the mouth". So you can't just go net a dying spawned out salmon to see how it tastes.

As for 'on the way to spawn', I've always heard, and it's my experience, that it depends on sex, appearance, and species. Even a 'smoker' fish needs to have meat that is solid enough to fillet and cut into pieces.

Almost always, Bucks hold up better than Hens.

Chinook: chrome-dusty-dark-old boot. I think the 'good eats' cut off is between dusty and dark.

Coho: chrome-touch of red-hook jaw-fire engine (bucks). I think the 'good eats' cut off is based on how dark red they are. lighter red with hook jaw should be just fine, often dark orange just like a chrome coho, but a dark red fire truck coho, no thanks.

Coho hens are tougher to judge, this is my 5th lake coho this year, Tahkenitch on Nov.20, big healthy hen, 'dusty' color, huge skeins of eggs that I cut in half, and the meat cut up just fine but she was almost too close to spawning, a little darker color and she would have been a release for me.

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troutdude

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I once kept an old dark Siletz soreback--like in your pic Anatoliy--and put in the smoker. It was a disaster as it was mushy and tasted terrible. Ever since then my rule of thumb is sorebacks are throwbacks. Incidentally that Nook was caught at Moonshine Park, if memory serves. So it had not yet gone upstream to spawn.
 
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Yeah, if "spawning salmon" are fish that entered fresh water, then where is that line between "it's still good for eating" and "it's not".
Problem is who you ask. If you ask that question to someone living in Astoria you will get a very different answer than someone in the Tri Cities or Idaho.

If they aren't silver I'm throwing them back. Life is to short to eat non premium seafood.
 
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How about the brooder that already spawned at the hatchery they stock in some of the ponds and lakes along with the rainbows. I've never fished for them but read every so often someone catches a 10 lbs plus from St Louis ponds? Are those salmon or just big rainbows?
 
jamisonace

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I've had post spawn salmon eat flies numerous times. They get really grabby when little streamers or egg patterns pass by them.

When I worked a summer in Alaska I camped on a stream that had a huge pink salmon run. They were pre-spawn but in that mode and definitely gross. I grilled one and ate it. Wasn't horrible.
 
rogerdodger

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How about the brooder that already spawned at the hatchery they stock in some of the ponds and lakes along with the rainbows. I've never fished for them but read every so often someone catches a 10 lbs plus from St Louis ponds? Are those salmon or just big rainbows?
I'm guessing those would be steelhead? :unsure:
 
hobster

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Snopro made a good point, depends on who you ask. I also agree with Roger that chinook salmon degrade faster than silvers. I have kept some pretty dark steelhead in the past but now I release them unless they are chrome. Same with salmon, if they are a little dusty then they’re OK but river salmon don’t last too long before the meat degrades. Released this nook fall before last (was laid out and unable to fish last fall). Probably could have kept her but I had meat in the freezer so she went on her merry way.
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hobster

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I once kept an old dark Siletz soreback--like in your pic Anatoliy--and put in the smoker. It was a disaster as it was mushy and tasted terrible. Ever since then my rule of thumb is sorebacks are throwbacks. Incidentally that Nook was caught at Moonshine Park, if memory serves. So it had not yet gone upstream to spawn.
Funny story, yeah they get pretty nasty quick when they’re dark like that. Yuck! I have hooked some springer nooks on the McKenzie steelhead fishing in the fall and they were so nasty they were literally rotting and the fins were just bone . Definitely cut my line on that one, not gonna touch that
 
Shaun Solomon

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He’s talking about broodstock trout.

Trout get pretty big, easily over ten pounds. Brooders eat a steady diet of dog food, same as stockers. If you enjoy the taste of dog food transmuted into fish flesh, then yes, you can eat them.

I don’t have much salmon fishing experience, but I have caught enough to be able to say, YES, without any doubt, zombies will bite and you can hook them fair. It’s not pleasant dealing with the situation, but it does happen. It is also true you foul hook a lot, but I’ve seen them swim after flies, snapping their jaws the entire time. I don’t think they are trying to “eat” the fly/lure/bait, they are just pissed off and aggro trying to kill anything they didn’t emit from their own bodies. All that is just to say you don’t “floss” them all, although I’m also positive that you do floss some.

Eating zombies never had any appeal for me, so I can’t comment. The Colorado DOW would net spawning kokes and after they stripped them for eggs and milt would let you take them. I smoked a batch of those… once. Not a good idea, IMO. They were not zombies or sorebacks (nice term btw, I’ll be appropriating it for future use) but just regular colored up kokanee. They tasted like fish flavored paste that had coagulated in alder smoke.

I’m with Snopro on this. Again. Dude seems to have his head together.
 
brandon4455

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I even let go some fish that are bright. It really depends on what fish.. what part of the season, etc. I’m not bonking a hen past early November unless it’s on a few select rivers that get many fish through the end of the year. That is partially from a conservation standpoint. Also partially because I’ve caught chrome fish “late” in the season and had them cut bad, and hen chinooks are notorious for that later in the fall season. The chinook in my avatar photo appeared to be “chrome” but had a slightly grey belly and no sea lice which I didn’t even think of, it was bright. It was a stray hatchery fish on a small stream in late October. The fish’s eggs were singled out and the meat hardly had any color left, the meat was mush. Not of eating quality IMO.

The small chinook I caught on a bead this year was in good shape, but to my surprise, it didn’t cut like I figured, it was peachy colored meat and not as firm as the fish I had caught 2 weeks beforehand. Still plenty edible though.

I’ve had fish that are bronzed up cut like they’re ocean fresh. And this is all speaking of fall chinook salmon by the way. If you fish often and expect to keep fish, being fairly selective on what you keep is important from both a food quality and fishery conservation standpoint.

I use to have an annual trip where I took an old work friend and his son out for chinooks once every fall. They would bonk the first two fish they caught, even if they were very dark (brown,black, some red tail/belly) chinooks that I would never even net.

But I also learned how to be selective in what fish I keep from time on the water, in years past, I’ve kept a few I wouldn’t even think twice about letting go nowadays, but I’ve never bonked a sorehead or a spawner. I couldn’t imagine how bad the meat would be. It would be a waste of a fish.

Fall chinooks and winter steelhead come into the river fairly mature and ready to spawn, they have less fat content and the nutrients in their bodies deplete quickly after entering fresh water. Especially coastal fish that have a short journey.

Spring chinook and summer steelhead come into the river and mature through spring,summer, early fall and they take much longer to turn. They are much less questionable to bonk when they have some color. Especially upriver fish destined for Columbia and willamette tribe, excluding tule chinooks
 
jamisonace

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How about the brooder that already spawned at the hatchery they stock in some of the ponds and lakes along with the rainbows. I've never fished for them but read every so often someone catches a 10 lbs plus from St Louis ponds? Are those salmon or just big rainbows?
You eat those with a straw.
 
jamisonace

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Rules of thumb:
Females degrade faster than males
Fall fish faster than spring fish
Chrome fish cut great
Fish closer to salt cut better

I've proven these rules wrong dozens of times.

Here's a fall female that some of you would have thrown back. 100 miles into fresh water and grayed up yet perfect meat.

I have let fish like this go but more because of good genes than bad meat. The big fish here would have cut great but it was released.

The chromer in the pic was 10 miles from the ocean and was so bad it became crab bait.
 

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brandon4455

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I caught this fish and gifted the meat to a friend who hadn’t caught a fish that day. This is a fish I would let swim 90% of the time (unless I have no meat in the freezer) Salmon can be tricky. This fish was buck which is much more predictable than a hen as shown in the post above. That is definitely a surprising cut on that fish above.

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jamisonace

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. I caught this fish and gifted the meat to a friend who hadn’t caught a fish that day.this is a fish I would let swim 90% of the time (unless I have no meat in the freezer) Salmon can be tricky. This fish was buck which is much more predictable than a hen as shown in the post above. That is definitely a surprising cut on that fish above View attachment 638640View attachment 638641

My guess is that fish came from a small coastal river not too high above tidewater? Still its not too bad. I'm a food snob and especially a salmon snob and I'd eat that.

Meat quality in relation to skin color depends a lot on where you are. The Umpqua fish I posted above was higher quality than others I got this year but not by much. I can count on all my September Umpqua fish caught near Roseburg to be high quality. Much less so in October and forget it after that.
 
brandon4455

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My guess is that fish came from a small coastal river not too high above tidewater? Still its not too bad. I'm a food snob and especially a salmon snob and I'd eat that.

Meat quality in relation to skin color depends a lot on where you are. The Umpqua fish I posted above was higher quality than others I got this year but not by much. I can count on all my September Umpqua fish caught near Roseburg to be high quality. Much less so in October and forget it after that.
The fish was caught in a small coastal stream about 10 river miles above tidewater.
 

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