Salmon Teeth Facts The Evolving Teeth

Ever wonder why salmon from the ocean have smaller teeth than the salmon that are in the freshwater rivers? Well once salmon have to spawn they have to go back to the freshwater rivers and that’s when they stop eating and their bodies start to degrade along with their gums and lips which makes it show their teeth even more.

In this article, I talk about salmon teeth from how big their teeth are to how many teeth they have and if they have sharp teeth. I also go in-depth on the teeth of six salmon species and what their teeth look like.

As you keep reading you will find out if salmon are capable of biting through fishing line, the pound test line to use for them, and the hoochie lure that I use for fishing salmon that gets them to constantly bite.

By the end of this article, you will learn all about salmon teeth and more so that you can fish for salmon and have them biting more often.

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Do Salmon Have Teeth?

Yes, all salmon species have teeth, salmon are carnivores and they eat other fish by biting them with their sharp and strong teeth. Salmon have teeth on their jaws and a single row of vomerine teeth on the roof of their mouth which are small. But not all salmon species have the same type of teeth.

For example, adult chum salmon have big canine-like teeth especially on the front of their jaws and they have a different set of teeth compared to a pink salmon. Pink salmon on the other hand have fang-like teeth that point more towards the inside of their mouth and are more separated from each other.

If you’ve ever caught a salmon while fishing in saltwater then it’s most likely that the salmon that you caught had smaller-sized teeth. Even though salmon live in saltwater for most of their life span they don’t actually seem to grow their large teeth until they enter the freshwater rivers which is where the salmon return to spawn and also where they were born.

Not only do salmon grow big teeth when they swim into the freshwater rivers but some salmon species also grow a hooked upper jaw called a kype and others grow a dorsal hump on their back. The kype and large teeth that the salmon grow make them look like a new fish species and the difference in looks is surprising when they develop these features.

Along with the salmon’s change of appearance, another thing also happens to their bodies that makes their teeth look even bigger. As salmon swim upstream in the river through obstacles to spawn they do not stop to feed or to rest.

It’s an incredible thing that happens and it occurs each and every year, its called the salmon run and this is when the salmon swim back to the freshwater rivers to spawn from the saltwater oceans that they lived in for the majority of their lives.

What’s so unbelievable about this event is that after the salmon spawn they die not long after from the lack of energy, eating, and the heavy strain that they put their bodies through. This makes the bodies of the salmon degenerate since they deplete every single ounce of energy that they have while swimming up and leaping over the strong river currents just to get to their destination.

The degeneration process ends up making the salmon lose most of its weight, scales, and its full-fleshed lips and gums to the point where it looks like it has no lips and even bigger teeth than it had before. With no flesh around the teeth and the loss of scales, the salmon look like zombie salmon and most fishermen that catch them in freshwater rivers call them zombie fish for that reason.

Different Types Of Salmon Teeth

Atlantic Salmon Teeth

Atlantic Salmon Teeth Picture

When it comes to Atlantic salmon their teeth are smaller in size compared to the teeth of king salmon and they’re also more hidden so they aren’t sticking out as much. This makes Atlantic salmon an easier fish to catch amongst the other species of salmon.

But the main reason why the teeth of Atlantic salmon don’t stick out like the teeth of the other salmon is that five to ten percent of Atlantic salmon survive the spawning process. This means that Atlantic salmon don’t use up all of their energy while swimming upstream so their bodies won’t degenerate completely which stops jaw degradation, the cause of exposure to their teeth.

Atlantic salmon can then end up spawning again the year after which is amazing considering that every other salmon species usually dies after spawning. Not only does Atlantic salmon conserve energy better than the other types of salmon during their upstream journey to spawn but they also have thin bodies that help them swim in rivers with strong currents which also helps them not use as much energy.

King Salmon Teeth

King Salmon Teeth Picture

King salmon have many teeth in their mouth that are quite big and sharp but what really makes their mouth frightening are the many rows of teeth that they have. These various rows of teeth make the inside of the king salmon’s mouth look similar to a mouth of a sea creature from a horror movie.

They also help give king salmon a powerful bite that’s strong and that’s capable of keeping its prey locked in its mouth so that it can’t escape. The mouth of a king salmon is dark and at the base of their teeth is where their gums are black. Some fishers nickname king salmon black mouth due to their mouths being black.

All in all king salmon have a magnificent set of teeth so next time you happen to catch a king salmon take a look at its teeth and see how incredible they look you’re going to be surprised.

Chinook Salmon Teeth

Chinook Salmon Teeth Picture

When it comes to chinook salmon and king salmon their both the same exact fish but the only difference is the name that fishers choose to nickname them as. Depending on what state you are fishing in is going to determine what some people name them for the most part.

In Oregon, people call this salmon species Chinook salmon but in other parts of the United States like Washington, it’s called king salmon. So if you are ever fishing in a state like Oregon and you hear someone say that they caught a chinook salmon you will know that they’re referring to a king salmon.

Pink Salmon Teeth

Pink Salmon Teeth Picture

Pink salmon have teeth that have more space between them compared to the teeth of a chum salmon which are much closer together. Their teeth are sharp and a bit fang-like and they point into the inside of its mouth so when it bites its prey it will have a harder time getting away.

The mouth of a pink salmon is white and both its gums and tongue are black. Its lower jaw is more stretchy than its upper jaw making it an effortless task to land a solid hookset when you hook a pink salmon by the bottom of its jaw. Just like chum salmon, pink salmon also grow a kype which is a hooked-shaped jaw but only the male pink salmon do.

Sockeye Salmon Teeth

Sockeye Salmon Teeth Picture

Sockeye salmon at first when they’re young, are pretty much toothless and they don’t have that many teeth. But as they mature to be adults they start to grow canine-like teeth that are strong and sharp. The mouth of a sockeye salmon is white along with its gums and its tongue is black.

They have lips that are similar to chum salmon which are flexible and hooking them on there can give you a smoother hookset. On top of that male sockeye salmon begin developing a kype on their top jaw as their time to spawn comes near.

Chum Salmon Teeth

Chum Salmon Teeth Picture

Chum salmon end up growing big canine-like teeth around the time that they start spawning. Male and female adult chum salmon grow canine-like teeth along with a hooked-shaped upper jaw known as a kype, but male chum salmon grow much bigger-sized teeth. During the chum salmon spawning season, the males will use their big canine-like teeth to their advantage to fight off other males for a chance to breed with the female chum salmon.

Chum salmon have a white mouth with white gums and a black tongue. They also have flexible lips so when you hook them on the lip the hook will go in deeper. Fun fact some fishermen call chum salmon other names like dog salmon because of their canine-like teeth which makes sense.

Coho Salmon Teeth

Coho Salmon Teeth Picture

Coho salmon have shorter teeth than king salmon but their teeth are just as tough and sharp. As Coho salmon develop into adults their teeth increase in size and when they begin to spawn their bodies degenerate which makes the front of their teeth look bigger and their teeth also become a lot easier to see from a distance.

Coho salmon have a similar-looking mouth to chum salmon it is white and they both have black tongues and white gums. Both male and female Coho salmon grow kypes on their upper jaw but the males grow them much larger so if you ever catch a Coho salmon with a big hooked upper jaw it’s most likely going to be a male.

How Many Teeth Do Salmon Have?

Salmon have around one hundred sharp teeth in their mouth depending on the salmon species. Most of the teeth on the side of their jaws are smaller with their front teeth being bigger canine-like teeth.

How Big Are Salmon Teeth?

Salmon teeth size varies depending on what phase of its life cycle it is on and whether it’s in saltwater or freshwater environment. Adult freshwater salmon that are in their spawning phase have bigger-sized teeth than adult saltwater salmon. The freshwater salmon that come from saltwater oceans and that have already commenced the salmon run are the salmon with the largest teeth.

These freshwater salmon can have teeth with an average length of around one-fourth to three-fourths of an inch. But they can get much bigger than that and some of their teeth can even reach lengths of up to one inch long however finding a freshwater salmon with teeth that are that long doesn’t happen often.

Saltwater salmon that live in the ocean have smaller teeth and they have an average teeth size of one eighth to one-fourth of an inch. Compared to the body size of an adult salmon, their teeth are quite small considering that the chinook salmon can grow to be over one hundred and twenty pounds in weight and get over four feet long.

Even though saltwater salmon have small teeth, that is not really a problem for them since they don’t eat big fish. They mostly eat small fish like sand eels, herring, cephalopods like octopus along with crustaceans like shrimp and zooplankton. That’s why salmon wouldn’t require the big teeth that they grow when they start to spawn in freshwater rivers.

Do Salmon Have Sharp Teeth?

Yes, salmon have sharp teeth but while salmon are living in saltwater their teeth aren’t as big until they go back to freshwater. With salmon having smaller teeth it’s going to be harder for them to keep the prey locked in their mouth without it escaping. So the way that they eat their prey is by piercing its prey with its sharp teeth.

Their teeth are sharp enough to puncture the scales of a herring and almost all salmon species have rows of teeth that are closely set together which makes it even harder for their prey to get away once it’s in its mouth.

Thanks to their teeth being so close together they use that to their advantage when feeding. But if they had teeth similar to the set of teeth of a northern pike like the fang-like teeth that they have on the bottom of their jaw then salmon would have a difficult time feeding.

What Do Salmon Teeth Look Like?

At first, when salmon are in saltwater their teeth are deep in their gums during this time salmon teeth look like small fang-like teeth and are hard to see from a distance. But when salmon return to freshwater to take part in the salmon run to spawn the way that their teeth look changes.

Along with their teeth growing in size, the salmon’s body deteriorates and its lips and gums become less fleshy causing its entire teeth to look even larger than they did before. After that happens salmon teeth then look like big canine-like teeth and also are much easier to see from far away.

What Do Salmon Bite On? My Favorite Hoochie Lure

Salmon really like to bite on hoochie lures for the most part and they attract them extremely well. I’ve fished salmon for quite a while and have found that the best salmon hoochie lures should have a reflective glittery skirt that’s colorful and durable enough to withstand the sharp teeth bites of salmon.

The hoochie lure that I use has a high-quality design that features a hard plastic head with 3D eyes which makes it look just like a real-life squid and not only that it also has realistic swimming movement that’s great for tricking salmon to strike.

Can Salmon Bite Through Fishing Line?

No, as long as your use the right pound test line no matter the type of line salmon won’t be able to bite through your fishing line. Even with salmon having sharp teeth their not as strong as barracuda teeth which can bite through fishing line. Although salmon cant bite through fishing line that doesn’t mean that your fishing line won’t get snapped while you have one hooked.

If you haven’t changed your line and its abrasion resistance is worn or if you happen to hook a large-sized salmon then your fishing line could very well snap from either the lack of line abrasion resistance or the heavy pressure of the salmon’s weight. But that shouldn’t happen frequently if you always make sure to change your fishing line when it gets worn out.

What Pound Test For Salmon?

The recommended pound test for salmon fishing is going to be a twenty-pound test monofilament line but it also depends on the size of the salmon that you are fishing. If you are fishing small salmon then a ten-pound test monofilament line is enough.

For average-sized salmon, the twenty-pound test monofilament line is just the right size for handling the medium-sized ones. And for the larger fat salmon, a thirty-pound test monofilament line will help you get the job done in reeling them in.

What Size Leader For Salmon?

The recommended size leader for salmon is a twenty-pound test fluorocarbon line. With this line, you get that nice abrasion resistance and less line visibility to increase strikes and not scare away salmon while fishing for them in the process.

When I fish for salmon in the river, the water is much clearer compared to the murky lake water making the fluorocarbon line much more useful for keeping the line hidden and for giving salmon a more natural presentation so that they can go for the bite.

Why Do Salmon Have Teeth?

Salmon have teeth because they are carnivores that mainly eat small fish species and the way that they can eat their prey is by consuming them with the help of their sharp teeth. Their teeth are not only sharp but they are also set together with not much space in-between them so that any prey that goes in won’t be able to get out as easily.

When Do Salmon Bite?

Salmon bite the most during the morning before the sun comes up and in the late afternoon once the sunsets. Rainy days also increase salmon strikes with the raindrops splashing in the water which seem to entice salmon to swim up to topwater.

On top of that, the moon can also help at night when your fishing for salmon in more than a couple of ways. For one the moon’s light reflects off the water which will help brighten up your lure especially if it’s light reflective and it will also make it a lot easier for salmon to spot it so that they can bite more often.

Along with the help of the light that the moon emits the moon’s phases also controls the tides. Fishing for salmon around three and four days throughout the full moon phase and the new moon phase is going to be the best times for catching salmon. Overall when it comes to fishing salmon being there at the right time is going to give you a great advantage for getting more salmon bites.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, salmon have a fascinating set of teeth that will increase in size as they migrate from saltwater to freshwater. Now that you have learned about salmon teeth go out there and catch some salmon and don’t forget to use a hoochie lure.