Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Sockeye salmon
Sockeye salmon
Category: Fish
Common names: Red salmon, Blueback (Columbia and Quinault Rivers), Kokanee or "silver trout" (landlocked form)

Description and Range

Physical description

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.

Size range
5-8 lbs, up to 15 lbs

Where to fish

Lakes where this species may be found

Benton County
Chelan County
Douglas County
Kittitas County
Klickitat County
Okanogan County
Whatcom County