- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus)
Sockeye salmon are blue-green on the back and top of the head, silver on the sides and white or silver on the belly. Immature sockeye salmon are iridescent in color, and juveniles, or smolts, develop black speckling called parr marks. The immature sockeye salmons body is slender, sleek and somewhat laterally compressed. Sockeye salmon are the slimmest and most streamlined of the Pacific salmon species and are swift swimmers.
They can be distinguished from the pink, coho and Chinook salmon by the absence of large, black spots. Chum salmon have larger and fewer gill rakers than the sockeye, which have 28 to 40 long and slender gill rakers on the first gill arch.
Sockeye are found in the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia, Snake, Fraser, Nass, Stuart, and Skeena rivers, and the Redfish, Washington, Baker, Ozette, Quinault, and Wenatchee Lakes.
Sockeye salmon may migrate across the Bering Sea to areas close to Kamchatka, Russia, and south of the Aleutian Islands into the North Pacific Ocean. Sockeye also migrate eastward to the Gulf of Alaska.
In North America, sockeye salmon can be found in Alaska, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Sockeye salmon are anadromous; they inhabit temperate coastal waters that are salt water and move to fresh water rivers and lakes to spawn. While in the ocean, salmon prefer water temperatures ranging from 39 to 53 F, which can affect the depth at which the salmon will be found in the water.
A variety of the sockeye, called kokanee, can be found year-round in freshwater lakes. The high temperatures and pollution within the lakes have required this landlocked sockeye to adapt and become more resiliant to poor water quality.
Although sockeye salmon live primarily in the ocean, they return to fresh water to spawn, normally to the same freshwater system where they were born. Once entering rivers in the early summer, sockeye travel upstream at a rate of about 13 miles per day until they reach the spawning area. At this point, the salmon will have turned orange red on their backs and olive green on their heads and upper jaws.
In the late fall, the female selects a spawning site and digs a nest, or redd, in the gravel with her tail. She then deposits her 2,000 to 4,500 eggs in as many as five different batches to be fertilized by the male, which has now developed a humped back and hooked, extended jaws. Adult salmon die within weeks of spawning, but their eggs incubate until winter.
Upon hatching, the young salmon in the redds will stay in the gravel and feed on the eggs nutrients until early spring. The majority of sockeye salmon are born in the tributaries or feeders streams of lakes. Juveniles born in these systems remain in fresh water for one to three years before beginning a spring migration to the ocean. However, sockeye, that hatch in rivers, begin their migration soon after leaving the gravel redds. Once in the ocean, sockeye salmon remain there for one to four years before returning to their birth site to spawn.
Sockeye salmon dine primarily on zooplankton in both fresh and salt water, but may also feed on insects, larval and small fishes, and squid.
Sockeye salmon are highly sought after for their flavor, color, quality and high oil content of their meat.
Until recently, sockeye were not often fished by sports fisherman since their plankton-based diet made them difficult to catch with traditional baits and lures. New small pink and red lures, however, are effective in capturing the sockeye. The simple happy hooker, a pink piece of surgical tubing on a hook, is a good example of a useful lure.
Sockeye can be very passive and may follow a lure for great distances without biting. Using trigger strikes and trolled lures can help entice the fish to strike, and unlike other types of salmon, flashing light can be utilized to stimulate the sockeye.
- The name sockeye salmon gets its origin from the First Nations of British Columbia who called the fish sukkai.
- The Latin name oncorhynchus nerka comes from the Greek words onkos and rhynchos, meaning hook and nose, and nerka, the Russian name for the species.
- There is no definitive information about salmon navigation, but some scientists hypothesize that salmon take magnetic cues from the earth and are led to the site of their own spawning by their olfactory senses.
- The kokanee salmon is a smaller, land-locked version of the sockeye.