Monstrous Chinook Salmon Found in California

We're gonna need a bigger canoe...

This is not a hoax. This monstrous Chinook Salmon was found dead in a shallow stream by the California Department of Fish and Game.

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Biologist Doug Killam discovered this angler's dream during a survey of salmon that had recently spawned in Battle Creek, California. "I have counted tens of thousands of salmon during my career, and this is the biggest I have ever seen." It better freakin' be. The previous record holder was an 88lb-er although this beasty's weight was not provided in DPFG's press release.

Because Pacific Chinook salmon die after spawning, surveys counting dead carcasses are commonly used throughout the Central Valley to estimate the number of salmon spawning in each stream. These monitoring surveys provide information on the number of salmon returning to specific areas, baseline information for establishing sport and recreational fishing seasons, evaluating hatchery programs, and evaluating habitat restoration and improvement projects.

"Hopefully this fish was entirely successful in passing on its superior genetic potential," said Killam. We here at Zooillogix have mixed feelings about gigantic, genetically superior salmon prowling shallow California streams, although swift revenge on spindly blue-blood fly fishermen could be amusing.

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As a side effect of sound conservation, the salmon got giganticer...

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okay, someone has to say it:
"I for one will welcome our human-sized salmon overlords."
"This is an ex-salmon. It is pushing up the daisies."

I assume that they typically count, but leave behind the dead fish - same for this guy, or would there be any benefit from taking it for study?

anglers' wet dream.

"would there be any benefit from taking it for study?"

Or for breakfast? That's a whole big plate of lox waiting to happen.

Rotting, putrid lox. Yumstopher.

I sure hope they preserve it and put it on display somewhere, so that I can actually believe this is real.

How shallow can a shallow stream be and still support something like that? (not minding that is dead)

Zelly, an adult salmon like this is on a suicide mission -- spawning, then dying. They do their eating out in the ocean, then come home for one reason only. They don't have time to eat, just find the shallows where there are rocks and lots of running water to deposit their eggs/fertilize the eggs. And then die.

It's one of those circle of life thangs.

But on the upside -- it's proof that conservation is working, if we start seeing monster salmon like this, which should make the salmon fisheries guys happy, not to mention delicious salmon getting cheaper in the long run....

By Theodosia (not verified) on 14 Nov 2008 #permalink

I can't even imagine my reaction to encountering a nightmare like this.

I'm pretty sure it and its kind are all dead not because of their millions of years of evolved breeding habits, but because I unconsciously wished them all dead from across the continent.

On the upside, yay conservation working!

My question would be, how often do those things spawn? If it's annually, are you tellin' me Gigantor got that big in one year?!

By anonymousnupe (not verified) on 18 Nov 2008 #permalink

I believe (if I remember my high-school biology correctly) they live in the ocean for three years before returning to spawn.

Still, that's bigger than most three-year old humans. Imagine if they stayed out for 8 years.. yikes!

(cue Jaws theme)

They don't have time to eat, just find the shallows where there are rocks and lots of running water to deposit their eggs/fertilize the eggs.

That would make one huge Salmon Pie!

 Salmon Pie Recipe
(if you like Salmon, you'll love this)

1 tall can of Red or Pink Salmon (Wild Alaskan preferred)
4 cup of boiled potatoes cut into small cubes
1 large Cooking onion (with the Yellow Skin)
2 Extra-Deep Pie Shell (usually sold in 2's)

Peel and cut onion into very small pieces, then sautee in light butter until very deep golden brown, dark.
Open can of Salmon and pour entire contents in a large bowl.
remove bones and skin from Salmon, but keep all the juice, then break apart.
Add the onion and boiled potatoes to the bowl.
Hand mix them all together and stir with a spatula. 

Pour mix into pie shell, level out, and cover with remaining shell.
Slit the top and place in the oven for 1 hour at 350 or until top is lightly browned.
Remove from oven and wait, as it will be very hot.

Enjoy hot, warm or cold. Season with a little Heinz , salt and pepper to your taste.

If you like this recipe, please let me know, and share it with others.

thats because it's a pacific salmon you dipshit. i can't believe that the 13 posts above this are made by idiots that have not the slightest clue as to anything about fish biology.

Its red because it has spawned or is spawning. The red color indicates deterioration of the animal. In other words they are rotting, they change color, they die.

As a student of fisheries I have a few corrections to the above posts. Pacific salmon as they may be there are Coho and Chinook in the great lakes due to human introduction so yes they are out east (Although not naturally). Second, they don't actually turn red as a sign of decay. Usually when we collect them during a dead pitch they are fairly pale if not covered in fungus. So this specimen is fairly fresh. Chinook do get a ruddy, almost rusty red colour during spawning but I have never seen one this bright red before. Obviously, salmon from different spawning habitats tend to be different in colouration due to water quality, mate preference but they all share at least some similarity.

More corrections from another fish biologist.
Chinook Salmon (which this fish definitely is, Coho don't come up the Sacramento River system) generally spend three years growing in the ocean before returning to spawn. Some fish skip a cycle and come back at four, five or even six years. That is probably the case with this fish, it may have spent even longer than that in the ocean.
This fish is an anamoly,not an indicator of the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Again, this fish spent very little time in fresh water before migrating out to sea, and grew to this size in the Pacific. If conservation is working, it tends to result in more fish not larger fish.
These fish stop feeding when they enter the fresh water system. By the time it died it had digested all of the yummy fat in it's tissues, most of its internal organs, and replaced the lost volume with water. The meat left is along the lines of a very gamey, grainy tofu.
These fish get left where they are found, part of the study is to see how they get moved around by the river and other critters as they break down.
There would be little to be gained by taking it to a lab for study.
There is little about this discovery that is revolutionary. Its just a damn big fish.

Thats a big fish!

By Lacee Moodry (not verified) on 15 Feb 2010 #permalink

Wow, never realized how little people know about fish. YES, it is a real fish. I was one of two who found this fish, our boss Doug had the time to come out the next day and pose with the monster, calculated at 85lber(after lifting this fish I'd say that this weight is accurate). It was a in-stream spawned out CHINOOK male found in a very small braid of Battle Creek, Ca. I have been studying salmon for ten years and this was the biggest one that I had ever seen. They really don't need that much water to navigate the stream successfully, however it needs to be cold. I have seen them basically walk on their pectoral fins through water that only covers one third to half of their body depth. Conservation is most likely not the answer for this five year olds giant size. It is most likely lack of competition in the ocean. Anyway glad we could share this fish with you all.

By Brian Kreb (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

Its size may also have to do with the cessation of ocean troll fisheries for the past four years. The longer chinook are at sea the greater their chance to encounter a fishing lure. Hence, selection for shorter year classes and smaller fish back to the streams. I look to see a lot of big fish in California and Oregon streams for a while.

By (not verified) on 16 Apr 2010 #permalink

That's not BIG!! geeez you guys , I caught one 11 lbs larger on 4lb test line on the Icantbelieveit River.

why are salmon dissarepping of the cost of alaska

By Cathirene (not verified) on 30 Apr 2010 #permalink

they are disappearing for the same reason off the left coast. Because of people. Be it from over commercial/recreational fishing, habitat destruction or loss of food.

We had a great year of fishing this summer in Alaska. If you go to and check the fish counts, you will see that the amount of fishs are more or less the same than 10 years ago. Not bad. But commercial fishing will one day left ous without any fishs left. So many oceans are allready empty...........

Open can of Salmon and pour entire contents in a large bowl.
remove bones and skin from Salmon, but keep all the juice, then break apart.
Add the onion and boiled potatoes to the bowl.
Hand mix them all together and stir with a spatula.

The clour you are seeing in this monster is actually the colour of the fish's flesh. When chinnok salmon enter fresh water to spawn they do not feed any longer depending entirely on fat stores. As mentioned in other posts, the fish will get it's energy from its own body, including it's scales(scales are also rubbed off during upstream migration and the actuall act of spawning, fighting etc.) Also their teeth do not get larger for spawning, the skin is actually stretched back from emaciation.

The flesh will show through its now thin skin as the colour you are seeing.

The fish is red because after spawning they start losing their scales in which exposes their red skin

i do a lot of salmon fishing in the shuswap river in the okanogan in b.c canada the chanook we get here are not that big (too bad) but lots are 30-40 lbs although we used to get them 50+ lbs consevation is working to bring back the numbers but the sizes are still slowly shrinking we have right now the biggest run happining in 100 years looking forward to more big runs to come

Conservation is most likely not the answer for this five year olds giant size. It is most likely lack of competition in the ocean. Anyway glad we could share this fish with you all.

Do you think a fish this large ought to be checked for genetic engineering? I think it's Chinook salmon that are currently combined with an eel gene to create salmon that grow extra large.

Apparently - if the GE escape the wild salmon populations will be extinct in 40 generations.

So if you read this maybe you want to oppose GE fish - if for only to spare risking our wild salmon - the GE pig is being mixed with a mouse gene. The government is deciding whether to label the frankenfood - personally I don't prefer mice - so I signed a petition and sent a letter to the President of the USA - apparently you can give the White House a call. Anyway, I received a very nice letter (e-mail) back - didn't say too much - just that they are still thinking about it.