When reading or watching shows about fishing in Alaska, you always hear about Salmon and Halibut as if they’re the only 2 types of fish found in the expansive waters around Ketchikan.
It’s understandable – Salmon is an especially popular delicacy enjoyed by millions throughout the world for its taste, tender meat and dense nutrients. Indigenous cultures across Alaska have relied on the various types of Salmon for thousands of years to provide sustenance during often brutal winters.
However, Salmon and Halibut certainly are not the only types of fish found in the coastal waters around Ketchikan. While fishing charters here and around Alaska may focus on Salmon and Halibut, there are many other species you may encounter during your time on the water.
Continue reading for a brief description of fish species besides Salmon and Halibut found in coastal (saltwater) areas throughout Alaska.
- Rainbow/Steelhead Trout – While these are two different species, there isn’t much discernable difference between the two, especially in the early years of life. At maturity, their backs have a blue-green or olive coloring and a reddish-pink band on their side while the lower side of the trout is a silvery color.
- Flounder – These are flat fish similar to the Halibut. There are 3 distinct species of Flounder residing in Alaskan waters (Starry, Arrowtooth, Rock Sole). The Starry and Arrowtooth Flounder average around 36 inches long as mature adults while the Rock Sole averages around 24 inches.
- Rockfish – There are in fact over 30 separate species of Rockfish inhabiting coastal waters around Ketchikan. The most common types of Rockfish include the Black, Dusky, Yelloweye and Copper. The Yelloweye is also referred to as a Red Snapper. While each of these subspecies have varying colors, all types of Rockfish have venomous bony spines on their head and a large mouth.
- Lingcod – These predator fish can grow to be quite large – 80 pounds and 60 inches long on average. Contrary to their common name, the Lingcod is not a cod species. The Lingcod is known for its sharp teeth, large mouth and spines. Their color can vary, but they typically have dark brown splotches in random spots on their bodies.
- Kelp Greenling – While in the same family as the Lingcod, the Kelp Greenling does not have the spines the Lingcod has. They also only grow to around 21 inches long. Males will have random blue spots while females have a golden yellow coloring on their head and fins.
- Pacific Cod – These fish are identified by a noticeable barbell underneath their chins. They also have three very noticeable dorsal fins and two anal fins. The Pacific Cod has a silvery color on its belly that gradually turns to black as you move up the side toward their back. They can grow to around 40-inches long.
- Pollock – In the same family as the Pacific Cod with similar coloring, the Pollock are found throughout the northern Pacific Ocean. The Pollock (a.k.a. Walleye Pollock) travel in large schools and can spawn in very cold waters.
- Sablefish – Also called the Black Cod, the Sablefish have an elongated body dark gray, almost black coloring on the upper part of their body that turns to a lighter gray on their bellies. They have two dorsal fins that are pretty far apart. While they average around 8 pounds and 27 inches long (tip of nose to tail fork), Sablefish have been observed as large as 45 inches long and 55 pounds.
- Capelin – This species is widespread in coastal areas of Alaska, including Ketchikan. They have a pointy head and a lower jaw that sticks farther out than their upper jaw. The Capelin is a slender fish with either a silver blue, olive-green or yellow-green coloring. They average between 5 and 10 inches long and weigh less than a pound. They are not considered a gamefish, but rather serve as an important food source for Cod and Hallibut.
It’s important to note that not all of these fish are caught commercially or recreationally aboard fishing charters in Ketchikan, Alaska. Others like the Rainbow Trout, Pollock and Pacific Cod though serve as important food sources for both indigenous cultures and the population at large.
It really depends on the time of year you go on a fishing charter that drives whether you’ll encounter one of these species. Your charter captain will be able to provide further insight into these fish and more. To learn more about fishing charters and the area around Ketchikan, Alaska, we invite you to visit http://www.oasisalaskacharters.com/ today!