Nushagak OutfittersNushagak River Lodge

Nushagak River Fish Species

Alaska Salmon

There are five species of salmon found in Southwest Alaska and all of them are available on the Nushagak River. The official names are Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink and Sockeye but they also go by King, Dog, Silver, Humpy, Reds, Silverbright and many more. Everyone seems to have their favorite name and favorite species, hopefully the information below will help you and your buddies figure out what everyone is talking about.


Alaska Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) (AKA: King)
Alaska King SalmonAlaska King Salmon

The largest of the Pacific Salmon. Chinook salmon average about 24 pounds when they return to their natal river to spawn, most after 2 or 3 years at sea. The Chinook is the least abundant of the Pacific Salmon. Spawning Chinook salmon become a dark maroon in color and devolp a slight hook nose.


Alaska Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) (AKA: Dog, Silverbright)

Alaska Chum SalmonAlaska Chum Salmon
Chum salmon make up about 13 percent of the West Coast catch. They follow Pacific migration paths and reach an average weight of about 12 pounds before returning to their natal river to spawn. As adults spawn they develop an olive green color with marron stripes on their sides. They also develop a severe hook nose and show large canine like teeth, hence the nickname of dog salmon.


Alaska Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) (AKA: Silvers)

Alaska Silver SalmonAlaska Silver Salmon
The fourth in the Pacific fishery abundance, Coho salmon is the number one sport fish. It spends only one winter at sea, returning the next fall to spawn. It averages about 10 pounds when full grown. Spawning adults turn a deep maroon with a dark colored head.


Alaska Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) (AKA: Humpies)

Alaska Piink SalmonAlaska Pink Salmon
The smallest of the Pacific salmon, Pink salmon average only about 3 to 5 pounds. However, they make up more than half the total West Coast commercial catch. Pink salmon seldom travel more than 150 miles from the mouth of their natal river. Spawning adults turn a dull grey and the males develop a significant dorsal hump.


Alaska Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) (AKA: Reds)

Alaska Sockey SalmonAlaska Sockey Salmon
Sockeye salmon make up about 25 percent of the West Coast salmon catch. Like the chum, they follow Pacific migration paths and reach an average weight of about 12 pounds before returning to their natal river to spawn. Spawning Sockeye turn a deep dark red with a green head.


Other Species

The Nushagak River is also home to Rainbow Trout, Northern Pike, Grayling, Burbot, Whitefish, and Arctic Char.

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout in the Nushagak are often found in the transitions from sandbars to deeper water and one hole we know of has yeilded Rainbows over 15 pounds.


Northern Pike

Norhtern Pike

Northern Pike are vicious fish with a mouth full of shark like teeth. They are so agressive they have been known to break the water chasing a lure and even to snatch a duck from the surface. In the Nushagak River the pike can be found in side channels and sloughs and range in weight from a couple of pounds to 10 or more. They are excellent in a beer batter and deep fried.




Grayling are beautiful fish with a large dorsal fin and are abundant in the Nushagak but rarely fished for. They will bite on about any fly and can be found along the shores in shallower water for the length of the river. They can get as big as a couple of pounds.

The Burbot, Whitefish, and Arctic Char of the Nushagak River are not found in great numbers but are caught on occasion. At our lodge we are close enough to the salt water that we have even had hump back whales in front of camp but there's not much chance of hooking one of those one ton beasts.