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Salmon Catch in Alaska

5 Tips for the Sockeye Salmon Run

Fishing is a unique sport that requires patience, time, and skill. But most importantly, it’s exciting and has instant gratitude! From generation to generation, each learns and finds new techniques for fishing. One of our favorite times to fish is during the Sockeye Salmon run in Alaska. 

Did you know? Sockeye Salmon is one of the hardest fish to catch!  The Sockeye Salmon run in Alaska is the last salmon run in the world. It takes place once a year around July 10th-25th, with over 750,000 to 1.5 million fish. Once the migration starts, the salmon will migrate back to their nesting grounds through the Iliamna River. 

June is the best time to fish the Sockeye Salmon, but since the fish are quick, you must place the lure directly in its mouth to successfully catch it. Below we’re listing 5 helpful tips and tricks to help you along the Sockeye Salmon run.


Tip #1: Shallow areas will be your best friend

Usually, fish like to hang out the water where its darker and not as close to the surface to make it easier to blend in. With the Sockeye Salmon, they don’t have time to stop and feed. To have a better chance at seeing the Sockeye Salmon, set up camp is where the river is the shallowest. It will make it easier to spot the fish and snag the lure in their mouth as they pass by.

Not only is it easier to catch the fish this way, but it is also creates a remarkable sight. The river becomes filled with these salmon from coast to coast. At points, since the fish are so brightly red or matted grey, the river becomes a blanket of tightly stitched red and grey threads. 


Tip #2: Fashion is key

Sockeye Salmon can see you if you come within 10 inches of them. For this reason, the biggest “no”, when it comes to your outer wear is bright colors. Make sure you are avoiding oranges, yellows, bright greens, reds, and most whites. Think of yourself trying to camouflage within the river. More natural colors will be better suited. Colors like tans, browns, and mild/darker greens will help you blend in within the river.


Tip #3: Use a Tapered Lure

A Tapered lure will be your best chance in catching these salmon. Make sure you get a tapered lure that starts with 20-pound that can go down to 15, then 10, then 8-pounds. With this, you will need to use appropriate knots, so your line does not snap. The best knots to use are the nail knot and the blood knot. These big bulk are going to be putting up a fight, so you need to make sure you have the proper equipment to punch back.


Tip #4: Change your Lures

Frequently change fly lures, and work with different streamers and leeches. If you are wondering about what colors to use, you could go either way. Preferably using unicolor leeches like black or tan works greatly, but very bright colors may also be in your favor. Fishing is all about trial and error so make sure you are switching things up!


Tip #5: Use the Three-point hook set secure technique

Fly fishing is not like regular fishing, it takes a lot more technical skill to maintain success. For this reason, you are going to want to hook the fish in the opposite direction its moving. Once you get the salmon on the line, pull on your line three times. Once to set the hook into the fishes’ mouth, a second time to make sure the hook is secure, and a third time just to make sure the fish cannot spit it out. This will increase your catch ratio significantly.

The Sockeye Salmon run is one of the most exciting and exhilarating times to fish. One of the best places to fish at this time is in the Copper river. When taking refuge up in Alaska, try to make it down to the Salmon River Lodge and the Copper River Lodge for some great food and friends. This is one fishing season that you won’t want to miss!