Yearling juvenile coho and Chinook salmon were sampled on 28 cruises in June and September 1981–85 and 1998–07 in continental shelf and oceanic waters off the Pacific Northwest. Oceanographic variables measured included temperature, salinity, water depth, and chlorophyll concentration (all cruises) and copepod biomass during the cruises from 1998–07. Juvenile salmonids were found almost exclusively in continental shelf waters, and showed a patchy distribution: half were collected in ∼5% of the collections and none were collected in ∼40% of the collections. Variance-to-mean ratios of the catches were high, also indicating patchy spatial distributions for both species. The salmon were most abundant in the vicinity of the Columbia River and the Washington coast in June; by September, both were less abundant, although still found mainly off Washington. In June, the geographic center-of-mass of the distribution for each species was located off Grays Harbor, WA, near the northern end of our sampling grid, but in September, it shifted southward and inshore. Coho salmon ranged further offshore than Chinook salmon: in June, the average median depth where they were caught was 85.6 and 55.0 m, respectively, and in September it was 65.5 and 43.7 m, respectively. Abundances of both species were significantly correlated with water depth (negatively), chlorophyll (positively) and copepod biomass (positively). Abundances of yearling Chinook salmon, but not of yearling coho salmon, were correlated with temperature (negatively). We discuss the potential role of coastal upwelling, submarine canyons and krill in determining the spatial distributions of the salmon.