There are five different species of salmon. Below are pictures of 3 of the most common on Vancouver Island.
We start with the Chinook salmon (above) as it is considered the King of salmon. It has spots all along the back and tail. The key for distinguishing chinook from other salmon is the black gums and the spots on the lower part of the tail. Only the pink salmon has spots on the lower part of the tail and it is easily distinguished against a chinook salmon. The world record sport caught chinook was just over 97lbs.
Coho salmon are some of the scrapiest salmon to fight. They often jump and race accross the top of the water leaving a wake behind. The largest sport caught coho on record is just over 33 lbs. Coho are also known for their delicious red meat and are considered by most to be 2nd only to the sockeye salmon. Coho are distinguished by their white gums. They usually have very few spots on the tail.
Sockeye salmon are considered by most to be the best tasting of all the salmon. They generally range from 5-10 lbs. Sockeye have soft mouths and when fishing them, the hooks often come out. Sockeye salmon can be distinguished by their lack of black spots on the their back. The coho pictured above the sockeye does not appear to have spots, however when you look at them closely, you will see their spots.