Fishes Of Yukon River


Yukon River is the third longest river in America. While it was made famous by the historical Klondike Gold Rush during the late 1800s, what the river offer is more than shiny nuggets - FISH!

Yukon River deserves to be famous for the extensive variety of fish that the waterway contains. There are over 45 different fish species in the Yukon River. All the fish species in the Yukon River are either freshwater fish or anadromous migrating up rivers from the sea to spawn.

Freshwater fish species of the Yukon River

Freshwater fish species in Yukon River include Rainbow Trout, Arctic Char, and Arctic Grayling.

Rainbow Trout found in Yukon River mostly grow up to 1.5kg in the lakes and streams. The Rainbow Trout fish species ranges from brown to blue-green on its back, with black spots, and white or dusky sides. Like many fish species in the Yukon River, Rainbow Trout feed on shrimp, insect larvae, and small fish. Visitors to the Yukon River will find these fish in the rapids and in shallow water during spring, but deeper water during the summer.

Arctic Char is a fish species in Yukon River that can be either freshwater or anadromous. Most Arctic Char found in the Yukon River are 1-2kg. They are greenish blue and silver, and olive green and brown. Insects and fish are the food of choice of Yukon River Arctic Char, and the fish species is found in pothole lakes and the northern drainages.

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Arctic Grayling found in Yukon River grows to over 40cm, but weighs under 1kg. These fish have oversized eyes and dorsal fins which are a beautirful orange and emerald green. They are dark purplish-blue on the back with purplish grey sides and scattered black spots. The Yukon River is teeming with Arctic Grayling and the fish species can be found offset streams, lakes and rivers. The Yukon River Arctic Grayling eats terrestrial insects, small fish, eggs, and snails.

Anadromous fish species of the Yukon River.

The best known anadromous fish species in the Yukon River is salmon. The Yukon River contains many species of Salmon, including Chum, Sockeye and Chinook King.

Chum Salmon has black speckling on back and sides, and when spawning, are green/black with dark red mottling. The fish species in the Yukon can grow to 80 cm and 7 kg. Sockeye Salmon doesn't have the black spots that other salmon fish species have. Sockeyes can measure 70cm and weigh 3 kg. Male sockeye salmon only turn bright red during the spawning season, while the female fish is a dark red with green and yellow spots. Chinook King Salmon in the Yukon River has the usual black spots on its back and grows to 120cm and 14kg.

Other anadromous fish species found in the Yukon River include the Bering Cisco, Least Cisco, Dolly Varden and Rainbow Smelt.

Yukon River Bering Cisco and Least Cisco are both distinguished by the fish species lack of teeth, a long and thin body, and large scales. Bering Cisco can grow to 35cm, while Least grows to 20cm. Both fish species have a silver coloring and eats insects, crustaceans and small fish. The Yukon River is brimming with Least Cisco, while the Bering Cisco can only be found near Dawson City.

Dolly Varden fish are found in Yukon River has a body similar to a trout, but with a forked tail fin and small scales. Their coloring ranges from dark blue to olive green, with yellow, orange, and pink spots. Dolly Vardens weigh up to 2kg and feed on insect larvae, crustaceans, and fish.

Rainbow Smelt is an uncommon fish species found in the Yukon River, and is characterized by its light olive-green back and iridescent silver sides. The fish species can grow to 20cm and 200g. Rainbow Smelt stay in deep water because of light sensitivity, and it eats small fish and crustaceans.


The fish listed above are not an exhaustive list, so a trip to Yukon River would be a great experience for all interested in the different fish species of the Yukon River. From popular salmon to small Rainbow Smelt, the Yukon River is a beacon for unique fish species.