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Sockeye Salmon illustration

Sockeye Salmon

World Record ~ 15 Lbs 3 oz. Caught on the Kenai River, AK on Aug. 9, 1987 by angler Stan Roach

Scientific name ~ Oncorhynchus Nerka

Other names ~ Sockeye, red salmon, blue back, kokanee

Identification ~ The Sockeye Salmon is the slimmest and most streamlined  of the Pacific Salmon. The Sockeye has a metalic blue back and head with bright silver sides. Although ocean-going sockeye are silver in color, with small black speckles along the body, the recollection many people have of this fish is that of the sockeye returning to freshwater to spawn. As sockeye approach their home streams, they turn varying shades of red - resulting in a brilliant scarlet fish with a green head by the time they have arrived at their point of natal origin.

Size ~ Angler caught Sockeye are usually 4 to 6 pounds

Habitat ~ The main spawning area of sockeye salmon extends from the Fraser River to Alaska's Bristol Bay. Most sockeye in BC and the Yukon spawn in late summer or fall in lake-fed systems; at lake outlets, in lakes, or in streams flowing into lakes. Some of these lakes have been cut off from the ocean and have a land locked species of Sockeye call Kokanee. The Kokanee never reach the size and weight of the ocean grown Sockeye. Major spawning runs are found in the Fraser, Skeena, Nass, Stikine, Taku and Alsek watersheds as well as those of the Smith and Rivers inlets. Young sockeye may remain in their freshwater nursery lakes for a year or more, with some waiting until the second or third year to make their seaward journey. Once in salt water, BC sockeye move north and north-westward along the coast. Their maturing years find them in a huge area of the Pacific Ocean extending west to approximately the International Date Line (2600 miles from the coast of Vancouver Island), north to the northern Gulf of Alaska and south to the Oregon-California border.

Feeding Habits ~ The rich color and oil content of sockeye may be attributed to their diet which includes a high percentage of shrimp and other crustaceans. They also feed on small fish and squid.


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