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Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon
  • Mouth is white with a white gum line
  • Almost toothless
  • No spots on tail or back
  • Large, bright gold, glassy eye

The mouth is white and the gum line is white.  The lips are fleshy.  The teeth are small and well developed in both jaws.  There are no teeth on the base of the tongue.

Sockeye Head

There are no spots on the tail.

Sockeye Tail

Sockeye (Red) Salmon
Oncorhynchus nerka

Other names: red salmon, blueback (Columbia and Quinault Rivers), 
kokanee or "silver trout" (landlocked form)
Average size: 5-8 lbs, up to 15 lbs

Sockeye are the most flavorful Pacific salmon. In Washington, sockeye are found in Lake Washington, Baker Lake, Ozette Lake, Quinault Lake, and Lake Wenatchee.

Sockeye are unique in that they require a lake to rear in as fry, so the river they choose to spawn in must have a lake in the system. This seems to be the most important criteria for choosing a spawning ground, as sockeye adapt to a range of water velocities and substrates.

Large rivers that supplied sufficient room for spawning and rearing historically supported huge runs of sockeye, numbering into the millions. One such run still exists today on the Adams River in British Columbia, a tributary to the Fraser River. The Canadian government has built viewing platforms for visitors, and annual runs of over a million sockeye are common.

Juvenile sockeye rear for one or two years in a lake, although they are also found in the inlet and outlet streams of the lake. Sockeye fry are often preyed on by resident lake fish, and because they use freshwater year-round, they are susceptible to low water quality.

Allways (All Ways) Fishing by Expert Fishing Guide Randy Lato provides Salmon and Steelhead
River Guide and Ocean Charter Services for the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.
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