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How to fish for Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye salmon are native to the northern Pacific Ocean from Hokkaido Japan to the Anadyr River in Russia and from the Sacramento River in California north to Point Hope Alaska. Sockeye spend approximately the first half of their life cycle rearing in lakes. The remainder of the life cycle is spent foraging in marine waters of the Pacific Ocean. Most sockeye salmon stay at sea for two years, returning to spawn in their fourth year, but some may be five or six years old when they spawn.
There are land locked Sockeye salmon in the Pacific northwest that spend their entire lives in lakes. These are known as Kokanee. These Kokanee do not reach the size of the Ocean going Sockeye. Taxonomically, the Kokanee and Sockeye salmon are the same fish. Sockeye salmon feed on zooplankton (such as copepods, euphausids, ostracods, and crustacean larvae), larval, small shrimp, small fish and occasionally squid. Most angler caught Sockeye salmon are under 6 pounds.
Upon entering the sea young Sockeye fry migrate directly offshore and do not return to the coast until returning to spawn.. Because of this fishermen only catch Sockeye as migratory adult fish in the months of July to early September. Many fishermen target Sockeye by trolling along the coast and in the bays, estuaries and river mouths in these months.
Sockeye salmon have traditionally been the hardest salmon to catch. There are specific techniques for Sockeye salmon. The first rule is RED, any red lure, even just a hook painted red or a red bead on a hook. The second rule for Sockeye salmon is less is definitely more, rip out at least every second frond of a hootchie. Sockeye target plankton and krill (euphasiid shrimp) and this probably accounts for the preference for pink and for small lures. Sockeye salmon are far more stimulated by flashing light than other salmon. Consequently, the third rule with Sockeye is use as many flashers in the water as possible. Tie 10 feet of leader to a flasher and attach it to your downrigger ball and then attach your fishing line 10 feet above the flasher. Alternatively, stack more than one fishing line per downrigger. 
Sockeye are known for following lures a great distance which is probably why almost all sockeye are caught by trolling lures. Because of this, strikes can be triggered by changing lure action, make tight turns every few hundred yards, take the boat in and out of gear and alter trolling speed.
For a good all round Sockeye set up use a 8 to 9 foot medium action rod with a star drag conventional reel spooled with 15 pound braided mainline. Tie on a barrel swivel to your mainline and on the other end tie on 10 feet of 15 pound fluorocarbon leader. Use fluorocarbon leader as it is invisible underwater. Tie your lure directly to your leader. 


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