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Is a Salmon a Salmon?

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

 "The Prize Fish the Columbia Spring Silver Side.

Other Varieties in the Waters of Puget Sound.

AN INTERESTING PAPER FROM SIR JAMES G. SWAN.

The most important fish taken in "Washington Territory, both as to quantity and extensive use made of it by the natives and settlers for food, as well as for the valuable branch of business of export purposes in the salmon, of which including the trout, there are sixteen varieties as enumerated by Cooper and Suckley in their reports on the zoology of the territory, and by Girard, St. John Kichardson and other authorities, who have written upon the ichthyology of the northwestern coast. 

Dr. Suckley, with an originality quite commendable in him, has adopted indian names for new varieties which are more readily understood by the people ot the territory than the unpronounceable Greek and Latin names commonly used in scientific descriptions, and his names have been adopted by all subsequent writers.

The finest salmon taken on the Pacific coast are the spring silver salmon ol the Columbia river, of which the choicest are taken near the mouth of that river, and are known as Chinook salmon, from the fact that the early fisheries were principally located at that point. 

This salmon is named ( salmoquinnat) an evident corruption of the name of a delicious variety, found in the Quin-nai-ult river, near point Grenville. north of Grays Harbor. The salmon quinnat entered the Columbia river in May and June, and generally abundant when the salmonberry (rubus spectablis) is ripe, say about the 10th of June. 

The spring salmon of the Columbia reach a great size, fifty pounds being not an unusual weight for them to attain. Some even reaching to seventy-five pounds. They are excessively fat when they first enter the river, but after ascending to the upper waters, they become thin and lose their finest flavor. They are in their best condition when they first come in from the ocean.

The most delicious variety I have tasted in the territory are taken in the Quinnaiult river.and are known as quinnaiult salmon in distinction from any other variety. They rarely attain ten pounds weight, but they are very fat and of the most delicate flavor imaginable. 

The names and varieties of salmon and salmon-trout in Washington territory, as given by Dr.George Suckley, as given in his zoological report to Gov. Stevens areas follows:

1. Salmo Quinnat, Spring Silver salmon, May and June'.

2. Salmo Quinnaiult, April and May.

3. Salmo pancidens, weak tooth salmon, May and June.

4. Salmo Tsuppitch, while salmon, September.

5. Salmo Truncutus, silvery winter salmon, or squaretailed salmon, mid-winter.

6. Salmo Gairdinori, spring salmon, May and June.

7. Salmo Confluentus, Nisqually salmon June.

8. Salmo Sconlin, hook nose salmon, September and October.

9. Salmo Pro ens, bump back salmon, September and October in alternate years.

10. Salmo Canis, dog salmon, or spotted salmon, October and November. 

11. Salmo Gibsii, black-spottedsalmon-trout, May.

12. Salmo Spectablis, red spotted salmon-trout Mid Summer and Autumn.

13. Salmon (Fario) Aurora, orange spotted trout.

14. Salmo Clarkii, brook trout or Clark's salmon.

There are several other varieties of trout, but, as yet they have not been properly defined, and in some instances are known to be the young of other fish.Young salmon called by the English grilse, or yearlings, are often taken on the waters of Puget Sound and called trout by inexperienced persons, and of the trout proper, there is but little doubt that the young of some species have been classed as new varieties,from being different marked than the adults. As an almost invariable rule, the best varieties of salmon frequent the large rivers, while the inferior kinds, like the hook nose and dog salmon frequent the smaller streams. Those two last named varieties enter the rivers of Puget Sound in immense numbers in the fall, particularly the dog salmon or spotted salmon, which run up the smallest streams, in vast shoals, even running out of the water upon the shores in their blind eagerness to surmount impossibilities and reach headwaters of the stream to deposit their spawn.I t i not my intention at the present time, nor will the limits of a newspaper article give space to a description of all these varieties and the rivers they frequent, but I would suggest to those engaged in the business of canning, and particularly those person who think that "a salmon is a salmon," to examine into this matter and they will find descriptions of all varieties in the zoological works of Suckley and Cooper, and in part 2 of vol. 12 Pacific railroad reports. There is quite as much difference in the quality of our salmon as between the fat eulachon and the dry smelt, or between extra number one mackerel and "tinkers," and those establishments who pay the most attention to to the selection of the best varieties will find the market demand will give them the preference. 

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