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Fishing terms and Definitions

    Fishing terms and Definitions- For FishingBC

    Like many activities, fishing seems to have its own language that can leave the inexperienced angler confused and intimidated. Here is a comprehensive list of Salmon fishing terms and definitions to have you sounding like a pro in no time.

    Ichthyology – the scientific study of fishes

    Anadromous. Meaning fish that hatch in streams or lakes, move to salt water and return to spawn in fresh water. All Pacific salmon are anadromous.

    Chinook salmon (king). The largest salmon species, averaging 25.5 lbs. Its meat is very valuable and desirable. King salmon are usually caught by gillnetters and trollers.

    Chum salmon (dog). A less valuable species. The meat is best when smoked. Called dog salmon in part because of the hooked snout and protruding dog-like teeth which become prominent when spawning.

    Coho salmon (silver). Alaska’s third most valuable salmon. Average size is 8.12 lbs., but can reach 30 lbs. Primarily troll-caught.

    Pink salmon (humpy). The smallest and least valuable, per pound, of all salmon. They are found in large quantities and are used for canning. The name humpy comes from the large hump which forms on the male’s back during spawning.

    Sockeye salmon (red). Alaska’s most valuable fish. They account for almost 30 percent of all harvested salmon. The name red comes from the male’s bright red color when spawning. Biggest sockeye harvests occur in Bristol Bay. Fish are usually harvested by gillnetters.

    Spawning. The process of laying eggs and fertilizing them. Salmon spawn in fresh water and die afterwards.

    Kelt – a salmon that has spawned recently

    Fry – a ‘baby’ fish. Fish in the early stages of development. In trout or salmon it is during this stage the fry is usually less than one year old, has absorbed its yolk sac and is between the alevin and parr stage of development.

    Fingerling – a young fish in its first or second year of life

    Shoal – a group of fish swimming together

    Fresh frozen. A processing term used to describe the end-product of a processing operation. Many onshore processing plants strictly gut, clean, flash freeze, and pack fish whole.

    Bait fish – any fish that is of primary prey to a larger fish

    Barbless hooks – fish friendly hooks that are made without a barb. Easier to penetrate and easier to remove. As long as pressure is kept on the line when a fish is hooked the losing of the fish is minimised

    Setting a hook – striking at a bite to set the hook into the fish’s mouth

    Clonker – nickname for a large fish

    Game fish – pertaining to salmon and trout or fish caught for sport particularly ocean fish such as sharks

    Lures – artificial devise to imitate insects, small fish, animals to attract fish

    Downrigger – a device fitted to a boat that uses a cable and a heavy weight to troll baits and lines at a set depth Drag – a device inside the reel, like a brake that puts pressure on the line being pulled from the reel

    Fishfinder / sonar – electronic devise usually used on board a boat to detect fish or objects under the water

    Spinner (lure) – a lure can be metallic or plastic in the shape of a fish and shiny to attract fish, used with a spinning rod and fast retrieval reel. A lure that spins in the water and is usually used for catching predator or game fish such as Pike,  chub and salmon

    Gaff – steel hook of varying sizes, mounted on a pole or stick, used for hooking and lifting into a boat a caught

    Double Header: having 2 fish on at the same time.

    Brackish – water that is mostly fresh, with some salt. The far ends of tidal creeks are mostly brackish, supporting sometimes fresh and saltwater fish

    Neap tide – the tide with the least difference or movement, between the high and low water, happens during the first and last quarter of the moon

    Spring tide – tide with the largest difference between the high and low level water. Happens around the time of the new and full moon

    Ebb tide – the outgoing or falling tide

    Trolling. A type of harvesting where lines, hooks, lures, and bait are used to catch the fish. In Alaska, trolling vessels fish with several lines, each having eight to twelve separate hooked leaders. Trolling is only done in Southeast Alaska.

    Mooching-on the west coast is what east coast anglers call drift fishing. 

    Drift fishing – fishing and drifting along with the wind and tide

    Jigging – the sporadic up and down movement of the rod to imitate natural movement of a lure

    Now that you are an expert on fishing terms, its time to get out there! To book the best Salmon and Halibut charters on the west coast, Visit: