Chum Salmon / Sake or Shirozake

2015/12/13 Chum Salmon / Sake or Shirozake

Sake or Shirozake [jp] /
Chum Salmon or Keta Salmon [eg]
Oncorhynchus keta (Walbaum, 1792)


When Japanese think about the word sake or salmon, this is the fish that pops up in mind. Although no longer making to popular salmon dishes in comparison with imported species, associated image remains strong with this fish.

History of Salmon for Recreational Fishing

Breeding program for salmons dates back to the medieval time when government simply forbid fishing on selected rivers during the run of salmon in spring. This method is still carried out in Hokkaido, but majority of Honshu’s salmon became nearly 100% man-bred over centuries of cultivation and stocking program is carried out by releasing pars in estuaries and harvesting them 4 years later in autumn when they return to their home rivers. All salmons became subject of resource protection by government and only designated fishery cooperatives are allowed to catch them in rivers. In the ocean where fishery rule does not apply, recreational angling is permitted.

This has been the case for many years, then imported salmons took over more than 50% of salmons distributed in Japan since 1990’s. Atlantic salmon from Norway, coho salmon from Chili, and sockeye salmon from Russia. Within Japan’s domestic production, cultivated coho salmon and sea-run rainbow trout take the remaining share. Every year there has been less and less demand on native run salmons, so Japanese government has been reviewing hatchery programs for sometimes.

In the midst of hatchery revision, Churui River in Hokkaido Island became the first place where group of anglers, commercial fisherman, and local government debated together about the future of salmon program. Today, in the name of research fishing, anglers can participate by applying for fishing license which allow them to fish for a day or days specified for the particular batch of research. Salmons caught in the process are monitored and female carrying eggs are collected by the fishery cooperative who send the eggs to the hatchery to start another cycle of breeding.

Rivers for Salmon Fishing

Following rivers are hosting salmon fishing program on constant basis. Situation is subject to change depends on fish condition or natural disaster. In fact, 3 rivers facing the Pacific coast in Miyagi and Fukushima were closed due to 3-11 Mega Quake and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.

Package Tour

ANA provides all-in-one package tour for salmon fishing every year:


Other Salmon in Japan

Common salmons in the northern water in Japan are pink salmon. There are occasional migration of coho salmon from border disputed territory and king salmon when current brings wondering fish.

Please see: Salmons in Japan

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