Sockeye (Red) Salmon
Fly Fishing for Sockeye Salmon
Sockeye salmon, also known as Reds, are an excellent species of sport fish, as well as a tasty Alaskan treat. A hooked sockeye puts up a feisty fight, readily leaping from the water and giving fishermen a run for their money, despite the fact that they are a relatively small species of Pacific salmon. Sockeye salmon usually measure anywhere from 18 to 27 inches in length and can weigh between 4 and 15 pounds. Like King salmon and other species of Pacific salmon, sockeye are anadromous: hatching and spawning in fresh waters at the beginning and end of their lifespan and maturing in salt waters. They spend anywhere from one to four years in fresh water and one to three years in the ocean. The extended period of time they spend in the lakes and rivers where they hatch makes them unique among all species of salmon.
The sockeye salmon is one of the most economically valuable and highly sought after species of salmon in the United States. Their high oil content and rich, bright orange flesh are their most prized qualities. As these salmon migrate to sea, their sides are iridescent silver, while their bellies are white and their tops are a metallic green-blue shade. They may have small black speckles, but typically lack large spots. When the sockeye are ready to spawn, their bodies become bright red and their heads become green. Mature males have prominently visible teeth and exhibit a humped back and hooked jaws.
Sockeye salmon are a far-ranging fish on the West coast, extending from Oregon’s Klamath River to Point Hope in Northwestern Alaska. They are the second most abundant species of salmon in Alaska, their largest populations found in the Kvichak, Naknek, Ugashik, Egegik and Nushagak Rivers that flow into Bristol Bay.
Red Salmon Fly Fishing
Sockeye Salmon are best fished in a river as they move from the ocean back to their spawning grounds, prior to changing from the silver color to red. Salmon start migrating up rivers beginning in late June and tend to gravitate towards drainages that contain one or more lakes. Spawning will almost always occur in a river, stream, or upwelling area along lake beaches, and newly hatched red salmon tend to spend the first month of their life near shore side waters before venturing into the open lakes.
Bristol Bay, being fed by so many river drainages, provides a prime area for red salmon fly fishing. Sockeye salmon can be found in lakes and streams from June through August, though the peak fishing season is early to mid July.
Do you want to know what makes sockeye salmon such a highly sought after sport fish? Give us a call at No See Um Lodge to learn more and plan your next fly fishing adventure.
The red salmon’s diet consists primarily of Zooplankton, though they are known to eat small crustaceans and other small fish. Like all Pacific salmon, once a red leaves the ocean and starts up river to spawn, they do not eat. Unlike the other four species of Pacific salmon, the Sockeye doesn’t have a strike reflex. This makes them a challenging fish to catch. No See Um Lodge recommends a 7 or 8wt rod and a weight-forward full-floating line.
Red Salmon Fishing Tips
Some consider the sockeye to be one of the hardest fighting of the five species of Pacific salmon. The challenge begins with presenting your fly, it must be in exactly the same depth as the fish as they will not go up or down to take the fly. But once they’ve bitten, red salmon are incredibly aggressive. They are very acrobatic fish, known for their high leaps when trying to escape an angler. These fish jump! So be prepared to hold on tight. The record weight for a caught red salmon was 16 pounds back in 1974.
No See Um Lodge’s location on the banks of the Kvichak River, provides for the best Sockeye fishing anywhere in Bristol Bay. In 2014, approximately 4 million Sockeyes swam past the lodge on their way upstream to the spawning grounds. 2015’s forecast is for an even larger run!
Does an “explosive fight” sound like exactly what you’re looking for? Let No See Um Lodge help you plan a fishing fight you won’t soon forget!