There are many different stages of the salmon. In brief they are the egg, alevin, fry, fingerling, smolt, and then adult. When the salmon reach their adult stage eventually they will go back up the river in which they were born to spawn.
The egg is the first stage in the salmon's life. When the female comes upstream to the spot where she was born. In early November the female then lays anywhere from 2,000-8,000 eggs in a nest called a redd. The eggs are a pinkish color and are about the size of a pea. It will take about four months for the eggs to hatch. They will hatch around March.
The alevin stage is the next stage in the salmon's life. The alevin is a newly hatched salmon. The alevin will stay in the redd till spring or early summer. It has a big yolk sac hanging from it's head. In this yolk sac there are protien, vitamins, minerals, and sugars that give the salmon it's nutrients. As the salmon gets older the sac will get smaller and smaller untill it disapears.
After the alevin stage the small salmon comes out from the redd into the river bottom. The fry is not much bigger then a fir needle. It will stay near the bottom of the river were the current is not very strong. The fry will start to feed on small insects and plants now that it's yolk sac is almost gone. The fry is prey to many different animals like other fish, ducks, and herons. To help protect the fry he has vertical stripes runing vertically down his body, this helps him to blend in with his environment.
The fingerling gets its name because the salmon is now about the size of an adults index finger. The salmon now hunt even more and the vertical stripes have become more distingushed then before. At this stage the salmon starts to make its way downriver towards the ocean. On its way towards the ocean the fingerling will have to watch out for predators that will try to kill it. It will also have to face many different obstacles like man made dams.
The next stage in a salmon's life is the smolt stage. In this stage the salmon's body is making the adjustment from fresh water to salt water as the fish is getting ready to enter into an estuary (where the ocean meets the river) and then into the ocean. In the estuary the smolt finds new food for the smolt to eat. Also though the smolt must be aware of new predators like humans. It is estimated that out of 8,000 eggs only 300 will survive to make it to the estuary. Here the smolts will grow very rapidly and mature into adult salmon.
Most adult salmon will spend up to three years in the ocean. In the ocean they will travel along the same path as many other fish of that species have done so in past years. In the ocean they must watch out for all kinds of predators, the biggest of all is the human. The salmon must watch out for nets that fisherman lay in the water to catch salmon. When the time is right the salmon will come back to the river in which it entered into the ocean and will travel upstream. The travel upstream is very hard the fish have to use all their strength to beat the current. While they travel back to the same spot as where they were born the only thing on their mind is spawning, most of the time they do not stop to eat.