Chinook (King) salmon are the largest and most highly prized of all the wild salmon, but not all Chinook are created equal. Simply called “Springers” by fisherman, the spring Chinook is the fish that we all wait for every year. This is the best of the best and it is caught in our own backyard.
I tell people if you only eat salmon once a year, this is the one! These fish have as much as nine times the fat content as their fall relatives! Fat is flavor. Fat keep the fish moist during the cooking process. Fat adds richness and Umami.
There are three sub-groups of Chinook salmon. Spring, summer and fall Chinook, named for the period when they begin their homeward spawning migration. Spring run Columbia river Chinook migrate the furthest distance to it’s birth place to spawn in tributaries of the Snake, Salmon, and Clearwater rivers in Idaho.
When you catch a fish in the ocean, there is no way to know where the fish is heading and to what sub-group they belong. Only after it enters the Columbia and passes the Willamette river. When salmon enter fresh water, they stop eating and they must live off their body fat. Because these fish travel farther than any other salmon and live in fresh water till spawning in fall, they have had to genetically develop a much higher fat content to survive the long trip. This is the same reason Copper river salmon are so highly prized.
These fish were caught behind the Bonneville dam with traditional dip nets by Native Americans. The way they have fished for centuries. This is also the best way to catch salmon to maintain the highest quality!