Yearling Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) were sampled concurrently with physical variables (temperature, salinity, depth) and biological variables (chlorophyll a concentration and copepod abundance) along the Washington and Oregon coast in June 1998–2008. Copepod species were divided into four different groups based on their water-type affinities: cold neritic, subarctic oceanic, warm neritic, and warm oceanic. Generalized linear mixed models were used to quantify the relationship between the abundance of these four different copepod groups and the abundance of juvenile salmon. The relationships between juvenile salmon and different copepod groups were further validated using regression analysis of annual mean juvenile salmon abundance versus the mean abundance of the copepod groups. Yearling Chinook salmon abundance was negatively correlated with warm oceanic copepods, warm neritic copepods, and bottom depth, and positively correlated with cold neritic copepods, subarctic copepods, and chlorophyll a concentration. The selected habitat variables explained 67% of the variation in yearling Chinook abundance. Yearling coho salmon abundance was negatively correlated with warm oceanic copepods, warm neritic copepods, and bottom depth, and positively correlated with temperature. The selected habitat variables explained 40% of the variation in yearling coho abundance. Results suggest that copepod communities can be used to characterize spatio-temporal patterns of abundance of juvenile salmon, i.e., large-scale interannual variations in ocean conditions (warm versus cold years) and inshore-offshore (cross-shelf) gradients in the abundance of juvenile salmon can be characterized by differences in the abundance of copepod species with various water mass affinities.