How to Catch a Sockeye Salmon

Latin name: oncorhynchus nerka

Best time to catch: spring through fall

Also known as: Big redfish, blueback salmon, red salmon, sockeye

Sockeye salmon ranges from northern California to southern Alaska. When at sea, it has a dark greenish blue back and silver sides. There are no distinctive spots on the back or dorsal or caudal fins. All adults return to their natal stream between July and October, depending on location. As males mature, they develop a pale green head, a humped back, hooked jaws, and an increasingly red body color. During the spawning season’ their head turns dark green and their body turns scarlet red (hence the name “red salmon”).

Catch sockeye salmon

When at sea, sockeye salmon feed on plankton, crustacean larvae, and small fish, and take squid on occasion.

Fishing Tips

Sockeye salmon are stimulated by flashing light—more so than any other species of salmon. The more flashers in the water while trolling, the better. The flashing light and noise attract a sockeye to within range of the moving lure. Sockeye salmon are known to follow behind lures for great distances without biting. To help trigger a strike, change the action of the lure from time to time by slowing or stopping the boat and jigging the lure for a moment before you resume trolling. The more action applied to the lure, the better.

When in the Pacific Ocean, sockeye salmon travel deep. A depth-finder will help locate concentrations of fish. The trolling speed should be slow and the lure fished within 20 to 35 feet of the surface.


Use squid or small adult baitfish.

Catch sockeye salmon


Use almost any spoon type of lure that is painted orange or red or variations thereof.


For trolling, use a 6- to 7-foot medium-action rod with matching conventional bait-casting reel filled with 15- to 25-pound-test monofilament line.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Leona Kesler is a head-chef at a very popular food restaurant in New York. Also she is a blogger who shares her experiences, tips, and other informative details about food and cooking. Her recipes are featured on many magazines.

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