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Thread: Fish I.D. Sockeye Salmon - Oncorhynchus nerka

  1. Post Fish I.D. Sockeye Salmon - Oncorhynchus nerka

    Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka

    A.k.A. Names: Red salmon, blueback salmon, kokanee salmon - in lakes
    Family: Salmonidae
    Range: Washington, North to Bering Strait Alaska, Bering Sea Regions
    I.D. Tips: Large teeth, Crimson red body/green head, hooked kype, large hump on male
    Run Timing: appears in tidewater from July to September, Kenai hosts early & late runs
    Travel: Travels in massive groups, moves slowly along the back
    Holding: pools, deeper drifts, under cuts
    Spawning Preference: Gravel side channels and shallow riffs, tailouts, spawns in or near lakes
    Spawning Color: Crimson red with olive green head, females may have black patches
    Average Adult Size: 3 to 9 Lbs - Possibly larger in Alaska and Canada

    Please Keep Native Salmon & Steelhead in Water While Releasing Them!

    Fresh or Bright Female Sockeye Salmon


    Male Sockeye Salmon Spawning Colors


    Male Sockeye Salmon Head


    Female [left] and Male [right] Sockeye Salmon Spawning


    Sockeye Salmon - Spawning Male

    photos: Nick Braun

    The Sockeye salmon [Oncorhynchus nerka] are likely the most plentiful salmon in the world with runs in some rivers numbering into the millions. Sockeye salmon are easy to spot by their large schools and bright red color. Fish can often be seen traveling along the banks of larger rivers making them an easy target for interested anglers. Most often seen in June, July, and August. Bright sockeye are by far a better table fair but are much harder to see with their mirror blue color. Another key feature of the sockeye is the olive green head on both male and female salmon. A large toothy kype may also be noted. Sockeye salmon are not present in Oregon rivers although many thousands of sockeye pass through the Columbia River each year heading to the Red Fish Lake area of Idaho. Only a few hundred will actually reach their home spawning grounds each year. Sockeye have been reported in many rivers throughout the Northwest that they are not native. This is likely from natural straying, possibly to self create by seeking out new spawning locations. Sockeye require clean spawning location near a lake or slow wide section of a river. Small streams that enter lakes are also often favored spawning grounds. Limited spawning habitat has narrowed their possible home range to further North than most other salmonidae. Sockeye in land locked lakes are called Kokanee salmon and are a favored table fair of the trout angler. In lakes sockeye or kokanee appear silver and blue much like ocean going varieties. Kokanee also turn a crimson red and ascend small streams connected to the lakes in order to spawn. Kokanee can be seen in streams in October throughout the Northwest.

    Sockeye Salmon Spawning in Small Alaska Stream




    Young Male Grizzly Bear Feeds on Sockeye Salmon


    photos: Matthew Clark

    Sockeye Salmon Links & Resources


    Fish I.D. Pages SSSF



    [B][U][SIZE=3]Angler Fights Sockeye Salmon in Alaska






    Last edited by KingSalmon Admin; 03-11-2011 at 11:11 PM.
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