Sockeye Salmon

Species Information

Scientific Name:Oncorhynchus nerka
Environment:Lake, River, Stream, Inshore
Ideal Temp:51-58°F (11-14°C)
Technique:Casting, Fly, Jigging, Trolling
Lure Type:Flies, Jigs, Spoons, Topwater
World Record:6.88 kg (15 lb 3 oz) - Kenai River, Alaska, USA
Other Names:sockeye, red salmon, blueback salmon, kokanee

Sockeye salmon is an anadromous species of salmon found in the Northern Pacific Ocean and rivers discharging into it. This species is a Pacific salmon that is primarily red in hue during spawning. They can be up to 84 cm in length and weigh anywhere from 2.3 to 7 kg. Juveniles remain in freshwater until they are ready to migrate to the ocean, over distances of up to 1,600 km. Their diet consists primarily of zooplankton. Sockeye salmon are semelparous, dying after they spawn. Some populations, referred to as kokanee, do not migrate to the ocean and live their entire lives in freshwater.


Sockeye salmon is the third most common Pacific salmon species, after pink and chum salmon. Oncorhynchus comes from the Greek '-ychos' meaning nail, and 'rhyngchos' meaning snout. nerka is the Russian name for the anadromous form. The name "sockeye" is an anglicization of suk-kegh (sθə́qəy̓), its name in Halkomelem, the language of the indigenous people along the lower reaches of the Fraser River (one of British Columbia's many native Coast Salish languages). Suk-kegh means "red fish".

The sockeye salmon is sometimes called red or blueback salmon, due to its color. Sockeye are blue tinged with silver in color while living in the ocean. When they return to spawning grounds, their bodies become red and their heads turn green. Sockeye can be anywhere from 60 to 84 centimeters in length and weigh from 2.3 to 7 kg. Two distinguishing features are their long, serrated gill rakers that range from 30 to 40 in number, and their lack of a spot on their tail or back.

Latest Sockeye Salmon Fishing Reports and Spots

Mosaic: The Salmon Wilderness of Bristol Bay - 4/8/2022 8:45:51 AM

When imagining a future with sustainable fisheries we need look no further than Bristol Bay Alaska. This short film from the University of Washi (View)

Kenai River Alaska 2022 - 1/22/2022 3:34:14 PM Hi everyone well we made to another year and the 2022 Alaska Salmon and Trout fishing season will be here befor (View)

Kenai River fishing report August 2021 - 8/26/2021 2:11:36 PM Hi everyone well we are having a great run of Silver Salmon here on the Kenai River and the Kasilof River is al (View)

Red Salmon Fishing On The Kenai Peninsula - 10/29/2021 1:16:32 PM

Red Salmon Fishing On The Kenai Peninsula! It’s that time of the year when people (both locals and tourist alike) start thinking about the upco (View)

Come Vacation at Our Alaska Fishing Lodge - 12/20/2016 4:42:05 PM

What should you know about a fishing lodge package at Jimmie Jack’s Alaska Fishing Lodge?  This lodge gives families the opportunity to have th (View)

Tips and Tricks for Catching Kenai River Sockeye Salmon - 1/18/2017 10:35:10 PM

Catching sockeye salmon isn’t hard. There’s a very simple trick to it that I want to show you. Click here for  "Original" Alaska Lodge  package (View)

HIGH HO SILVERS - 8/19/2021 4:05:32 PM

While we had fun catching sockeye salmon left and right they have spawned to the point of no return. While most of the sockeyes have morphed in (View)

REDS GALORE!!! - 8/12/2021 4:27:44 PM

The time for sockeye salmon fishing is coming to a close this year. The Kenai Peninsula has given us an epic season for reds! BUT DONT WORRY!!! (View)

Good News from Bristol Bay – Sockeye Salmon Numbers off the Charts - 7/24/2021 10:57:59 AM

From Meghan and Trout Unlimited’s Save Bristol Bay team Dear Bristol Bay supporters We have exciting news to share with you! Yesterday the Alask (View)

SOCKEYE FISHING IS HOT HOT HOT! - 7/22/2021 1:31:34 PM

It’s that time again when we line the stringers with sockeye salmon (or reds)! On the turquoise waters of the Kenai River we have a lot of fun (View)