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Guide to Wild Salmon


Wild salmon is a heart-healthy food choice! Born in fresh water, salmon migrate to the open ocean where they feed mainly on plankton until maturity, making them rich in omega-3 fatty acids and premium protein.

The two species of wild salmon on the market are pink salmon and red or sockeye salmon, which are also the main canning species.

Pink salmon

The smallest of the Pacific salmon species, pink salmon generally weigh from 3 to 5 pounds although a few reach 10 pounds. They are the most plentiful species.


The alevins emerge from river gravel beds as fry in the spring and swim towards the sea, spending anywhere from a few days to several months in estuaries or coastal waters before heading off to the high sea. In the deep sea, pink salmon feed on animal plankton, especially krill, which gives their flesh the characteristic bright pink colour for which the species is named. Pink salmon return in large numbers every year to some spawning rivers, but only every other year to others. They return to the Fraser River in odd-numbered years. Gillnetting, seining and trolling are all used to catch pink salmon.

Nutrition facts

Per 100 grams of pink salmon

  • Calories 116.0
  • Fatty calories 30.6
  • Protein 19.9 g
  • Fat 3.4 g
  • Saturated fat 0.6 g
  • Sodium 67 mg
  • Cholesterol 52 mg
  • Omega–3 1.2 g

Red or sockeye salmon

Sockeye are the famous red salmon usually featured in documentaries. Weight for weight, sockeye are the hardiest in fighting their way upstream, sometimes in their millions, during the spawning run from July to October. The sockeye were the first species of salmon to be marketed.


Slightly bigger than pink salmon, sockeye live 4 to 5 years. While juvenile salmon of other species prefer streams and rivers, juvenile sockeye abound in lakes where they feed on animal plankton.


The sockeye species has a most remarkable trait—it shows cyclical dominance in spawning. In many lakes of the Fraser River system, salmon abound every four years. Sockeye reach maturity between 2 and 6 years, but in most systems only one age group (generally 4-year-old fish) dominates. Consequently, most of the fish from an egg deposition return four years later to spawn. This cyclical dominance results in spectacular upstream migrations in the Adams River every four years.


Sockeye are usually caught with gill nets and seine nets during their spawning run.

Nutrition facts

Per 100 grams of sockeye salmon

  • Calories 168
  • Fatty calories 74.4
  • Protein 21.8 g
  • Fat 6.6 g
  • Saturated fat 1.5 g
  • Sodium 47 mg
  • Cholesterol 62 mg
  • Omega–3 1.9 g