Why The White King Is The Best Alaska Salmon To Catch?
Chinook salmon is the self-evident reigning King of the Salmon fishing world. King Salmon are generally regarded as the most brilliant and attractive fish of the various species. They can grow to be the largest (up to 100lbs) and they head and shoulders above the other species in terms of taste, fight, and overall quality. While King is the clear trophy species, there are some further sub-distinctions within the species that are relatively unknown to people from the lower 48.
What Makes Salmon Have Their Brilliant Red Color?
The bright red meat of a wild Alaska king salmon is a spectacular sight. The deep red color comes from pigments in crustaceans of the salmons’ diet. There is however a subset of Kings which many say provide a superior product. The number is debated, but the best sources say about 4% of kings have white meat due to an inability to process pigments from their prey. Subsequently, the meat can appear relatively drab when compared to the standard bright red. This color difference historically has led to a discount for commercial fisherman as the meat was simply not as desirable for standard markets. For Alaskan’s, however, we know that this is a rare treat that comes along with a unique and coveted taste. Many locals consider the white king more delectable. The meat is oilier and hence tastier.
All salmon eat small marine crustaceans (shrimp, krill, and crabs) that are rich in astaxanthin, a carotenoid that is found in most sea life. Carotenoids are natural pigments, such as beta-carotene that makes carrots orange, lycopene that provides tomatoes with red color, and astaxanthin, which gives lobsters’ their red shell. White king salmon do not have the ability to metabolize these pigments from their food sources, leaving their flesh white. The ability of salmon to metabolize and store the red-orange pigment carotene in its muscle cells is determined by their genetic make-up.
What Is The Nutritional Makeup Of The Chinook Salmon And Why Is It So Healthy?
All of the King’s (Chinook) are the same species, Onchorhynchus tshawytscha. From a nutritional standpoint, research has shown the white kings and the red-fleshed kings are identical in a composition of lipids, moisture, protein, and omega -3 fatty acids. But white kings are preferred by true connoisseurs due to the richer flavor in the oily meat.
There are some local sport fisherman who claim that white kings fight differently once hooked. In our experience, this is more folklore than fact. Kings are the best fighting species of all salmon and we have yet to see a discernible difference between the rare white and standard Chinook. In addition, the fish look exactly the same on the outside. It is not until you fillet your catch that you will notice the distinct and stark color difference.