Sockeye Salmon in Idaho


Sockeye salmon are sometimes called bluebacks or redfish because of their color when they leave the ocean and when they spawn.

The adults leave the ocean during the summer and spawn during October in Idaho. Sockeye are unlike other salmon in that they need lakes for their young to live in. Young sockeye live and grow in the lake for 1 to 2 years before migrating to the ocean during May. They move northward along the coast to the Gulf of Alaska, where they live for 1-3 years before returning to Idaho.

Their journey covers over 900 miles from the ocean to the headwaters of the Salmon River near Stanley, which is more than 6500 feet above sea level. Their range once included Payette Lake, but today sockeye are only found in a few lakes near Stanley, including Redfish Lake.

Sockeye Salmon or Kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka)