Once Sockeye Salmon leave the ocean and move up stream, they stop feeding. Before entering the river to spawn, some Sockeye Salmon will still feed, congregating at the mouth of the river.

Most Sockeye Salmon that are caught in a small streams and rivers are snagged and not caught by strikes out of hunger. However, at this time, Sockeye Salmon have nothing on their minds beside spawning.

They are aggressive and territorial, defending their spawning ground from Rainbow and Brown Trout which follow salmon up stream to feed on their eggs. As such, they will strike out at anything that comes too close including lures and baits, which should be how you approach them during this time.

Don’t appeal to their sense of hunger, but appeal to their sense of self-preservation by brining lures and baits close to them and in front to cause a strike.

Effect Sockeye Salmon Lures

Sockeye Salmon will hit Rapalas or spinners that have rainbow or brown trout colours. Sometimes they will also hit loud colours such as bright red or bright yellow. So your best chance at landing a Sockeye Salmon is to provoke a strike with a bright colour lure brought in close but not too fast.

The threat to the Sockeye Salmon’s territory is more effective if it is slowly retrieved. Baited hooks with eggs, worms work well, as do small spoons and spinners as well as small flies.

As Sockeye Salmon swim up stream, they generally start to disintegrate pretty quickly, which also translates to a rather poor quality of their flesh and is not the best for table fare.

However, if they are gutted and put on ice quickly, the degradation is minimized. Smoking is also an excellent way to deal with the reduced quality but the smoking process should be done quickly after they are caught and gutted.

Death after Spawning

Usually by the time Sockeye Salmon have finished spawning, they are on the verge of death. This is where Atlantic salmon differ from most Pacific salmon. Atlantic salmon do not die after they spawn, living many more spawning seasons before they expire.

In the lower stretches of a river, back-trolling from a drift boat with diving plugs, such as Kwikfish or Hot Shots, is an excellent way to locate moving fish. When wading in the narrow, upper-river or tributary streams, spoons, spinners or streamers are highly effective.