Sockeye salmon is the most valuable U.S. salmon species and the premium canned salmon, known as red salmon to canners. Sockeye are also known as kokanees (a landlocked species) and quinaults. The name sockeye has nothing to do with the fish’s eyes but is a corruption of the Native American name sukkai. Sockeye range from California’s Sacramento River system north to the Bering Sea and then south to northern Hokkaido. Bristol Bay, Alaska, has the largest sockeye run, during which millions of fish are taken. Wild-run Bristol Bay sockeye are of such quality that they often compete with Chilean farm-raised coho on the world market. There are also major runs in the Copper River and parts of Southeast Alaska. Commercially caught fish run 4 to 10 pounds. Most are caught with gillnets. You’ll pay a premium for seine-caught fish, but they’re very good, as are the small portion of troll-caught sockeye salmon. Sockeye are not farmed.
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