Words and Phrases to Fill Your Sockeye Vernacular



Alaska – 1. The place where it all happens 2. For a salmon fisherman, the closest thing to Heaven on Earth 3. Mosquito capitol of the world  4. My home during every July

Anchorage – 1. The main urban center of Alaska  2. A term for an idiot who thinks he has priority in a previously occupied fishing hole just because he’s from Anchorage

Angler Eyes – Top leading brand of sunglasses offering unequaled visual protection to sockeye fishermen

Ass – Strong term for a stupid idiot


Backstepping – Combat technique whereby you cast and take a baby step upstream, thereby increasing your drifting room and cutting off the person upstream from you

Banana-Fish – Retrieval of a sockeye hooked in the dorsal fin.

Banked – Nothing to do with money here – this is the term to describe the a “caught” sockeye

Barehook – Illegal method of fishing for sockeye; a hook must have yarn around the shank in order to be legal

Bass Fisherman – Derogatory term for a yahoo of a sockeye fisherman. Bass Fisherman are easily spotted by; a) their blue ball caps, b) their camouflage fishing gear c) their irrelevance for other’s fishing holes, d) their propensity for traveling in packs of four, and e) their southern drawls.

Beach – The bank of the river. Put ’em on the beach baby. Not related to the sand near the ocean.

Big Bopper – 1. Nickname for any large fish bonking club  2. My favorite brand of ice-cream sandwich

Bonky-di-bonk – Description of German/Swiss method for snagging a sockeye, dragging it in by the tail, and then “bonky-di-bonking” it on the head for an illegal kill.

Blue Caps – Similar to a Bass Fisherman. Blue Caps are easily sighted by the color of their caps. They tend to be retirees, bad fisherman, and annoying to talk with.

Boardwalk – Visual evidence of a piece of river bank being overcrowded by stupid people for too many years. As vegetation is stamped down, metal boardwalks spring up in their place.

Boot hook – Combat technique for clearing someone out of your drift zone. Continuous hooking of your downstream neighbors boots or waders will either clear you some drifting room or will lead to physical/verbal confrontation.

Britney Spears – Term for a young, cute, blonde girl fishing on the river

Buck – Male member of the sockeye species

Bug Dope – Mosquito repellent; spray or lotion

Butcher – A fisherman who has no idea how to clean or filet his sockeye, won’t ask for help, and proceeds to turn it into hamburger

Bye-bye – What you tell your neighbor when he foul hooks a fish that runs two hundred yards downstream without snapping off


Cast and Step Down – Early morning or late night technique for covering large amounts of water. Technique is only available when large stretches of the bank are void of other fisherman. Technique works in the following manner; 1) cast and drift, 2) take one large step downstream, 3) repeat until contact with sockeye is made

Catch and Release – Method for determining which fishermen have already caught their limit earlier in the day

Champ – 1. My wife  2. First person to legally catch their limit during a fishing session

Charlie Brown Kite String – Description of the backlash and messy knot of fishing line that a poor rookie causes from not knowing how to handle his fishing gear properly

Cheater – Anyone who consistently catches or hooks more sockeye than you do

Chickens – Halibut term which can also apply to sockeye fishing; term signifies a really small fish

Close in – One of the three primary troughs (distance from the bank) that sockeye run in (the others are medium and deep)

Closer – Of the two-man Asian fishing team, the fisherman who is responsible for reeling in the sockeye after his teammate does the work of hooking it – similar to a relief pitcher in baseball

Coho – Proper name for a Silver Salmon

Coho Fly – Pre-made, mass produced yarn fly that is deadly for catching sockeye salmon. Comes in every color of the rainbow

Combat – 1. Term which describes a general style of fishing in a crowded stretch of water 2. Specific term designating that you are in fishing competition with someone or group of people for access to a specific hole or stretch of water

Combat Tactics – Specific methods and techniques a sockeyer uses to ensure his own fishing success

‘Crack’ – Sound your rod tip makes when breaking-off due to mis-use, negligence, or poor manufacture

Cribbage – Traditional sockeyer card game used to pass the hours from midnight to 3am

Crowded – 1. The traditional state of the river bank whenever there are sockeye present  2. A question you ask fisherman coming up the trail (crowded??) as you are headed down to the fishing hole

Crowding In – 1. The art of making a fishing spot for yourself between two fishermen who are already fishing in that area  2. The number one cause of verbal and physical conflict between fishermen  3. The condition a sockeyer learns to discourage by deployment of combat tactics


Deep – One of the three primary troughs where sockeye run in the river. Of the three, ‘deep’ is the hardest to fish due to length of cast needed and the speed of the current

Defending the Hole – Term to describe the combat mentality of keeping people from infringing upon your fishing space.

Dinky – One of the small Russian River Sockeye or ‘jack’ salmon

Dog Poop Area – Lightly grassed open area in a crowded camping zone where most people take their dogs to relieve themselves and where some unfortunate soul ends up pitching his tent every year

Doink – The process of ‘hitting’ a sockeye with your hook; the incident causes a momentary hiccup in your retrieval, although no actual hookup is made

Dolly V. – Shortened name for a Dolly Varden trout (arctic char); usually an incidental catch during sockeye fishing – though not bad eating when of size, for best sockeye karma these should be released

Dorsal – The big fin on the back of sockeye that most snaggers are able to hook on a consistent basis

Drag – The little knob on your reel that adjusts how much resistance your reel will give before letting out line to a fighting sockeye. More often than not the phrase “tighten your drag” can be heard up and down the river when rookies are in the area

Drats – The non swear word phrase that accompanies a ‘doink’

Duck – Technique to avoid being hit in the head by a flying hook or set of weights

Dumbass – Simple verbalized description of a fellow fisherman who continually casts over your line, crowds into your drift zone, or stands so far out into the river as to disrupt the shallow migration pattern of the sockeye which you have been hooking on a regular basis prior to his arrival


Eagles – 1. The best fishers on the Kenai 2. Visual eye candy to the attentive observant sockeyer

Elbow to Elbow – Common description of a crowded fishing area which seems to not house any space for you to fish in

European Stamp – Description of the relative size of a German sockeye filet after Hans or Franz are finally done cutting at it with their 10 different filet knives.

Evening Shift – Common migration of a large group of people into the fishing hole around 6-8pm


F&G – 1. Abbreviation for a Fish and Game Trooper  2. The government agency dedicated to enforcing the fishing and hunting regulations  3. Any suspicious stranger fishing nearby who you think might be an undercover game officer

Falling In – Smooth move of stepping into the river in such a way that you make a big splash and commotion, your waders or boots fill up with water, and everyone laughs at you

Famous – The end desire of every true sockeyer – to gain notoriety and renown for his unparalleled sockeye slaying ability

Ferry – Nothing to do with sexual orientation here; this term is used to describe the vehicle which transports fisherman across the Kenai River at its confluence with the Russian River

Filet – Cleaning method whereby a fisherman removes the boneless meat slabs from the sides of a sockeye and throws the guts, head, and rib cage back into the river

Firsts – Term to describe the three events which must occur in order for a sockeyer to truly enjoy his Alaska vacation; first fish caught, first poop, and first cribbage victory

Fish Box – 1. Large cardboard and waxed covered box used to transport frozen fish back to your home destination. Typical sizes are 70-pound and 50-pound boxes  2. Term to describe the temporary storage place of your sockeye

Fishing Cap – Essential piece of sockeyer gear used to protect balding spots from sunburn and seagull droppings, as well as, visual indication of a sockeyer’s personality

Fish-On – 1. Traditionally phrase that is belted out upon successful hooking of a sockeye salmon, alerts others to make way for your battle  2. The condition of having a sockeye salmon currently attached to your hook

Fish-Off – Traditional phrase that usually follows ‘fish-on’ about 2-3 seconds later to alert other fishermen that the battle is over

Flip Cast – Alaska/Kenai fishing technique whereby a fisherman measures out about 12-15 feet of line and continually casts, drifts, retrieves with a slight tug, and repeats the process without ever reeling the line back in

Foul Hooked – Term to describe when a fisherman embeds his hook into a sockeye in any place other than the sockeye’s mouth

Frankenstein – Description of a landed sockeye which turns out to have a nasty gaping gash in it caused by either a predator or a drift net

Fred Flintstone – Description of the 2-inch lump on your forehead caused by the whacking of someone’s weights into your skull

Frenchy – Derogatory term to describe the annoying fisherman who speaks French and always wants to stand in your spot


Geared Up – A sockeyer is ‘geared up’ when he has put on his waders, grabbed his tackle, and rigged his rod for fishing

God – The creator of the spectacular sockeye fishing of which you are about to enjoy; the One that you should thank for each of your fish

Guides – 1. The epitome of evil to a self respecting sockeye fisherman  2. Those who charge money to take you fishing

Guts – 1. The gooey innards of the sockeye which are cast back into the river during cleaning, and should not be left on the river bank to rot (please take note if you do this)  2. That which you should have lots of if you’re going to crowd into an already occupied fishing hole

Gwin’s – 1. Internationally renown eating and lodging establishment along the Sterling Highway near the confluence of the Kenai/Russian Rivers  2. Place to purchase very expensive Alaska t-shirts and sweatshirts


Hack – 1. A wannabee fisherman who thinks he is a sockeyer, but really can’t fish at all  2. Synonym for a “butcher”; one who can’t clean his catch worth a darn

Hans and Franz – Term to describe a duo of German or Swiss tail-snaggers

Hayseed – 1. The guy fishing next to you from Oklahoma who continues to cast over your line, fishes out of sequence, constantly jigs his hook at the end of his cast for 60 seconds before reeling in, and is missing most of his teeth; oh yeah – and never hooks a fish  2. Any southerner who introduces himself to you by asking “What color are they all biting on?”

Hen – 1. The female member of the sockeye species  2. An overweight female fisherman

Hip Waders – 1. Essential sockeye gear; one of the three main choices for staying dry while sockeye fishing  2. A bank angler’s worst nightmare when Swiftwater Bill motors by

Hog – 1. A really really big sockeye salmon  2. Any sockeye salmon that you lose that your neighbor didn’t see

Hole – 1. The primary area in the river where you are consistently hooking fish  2. “The hole” – the spot where the most fish are being hooked during the day  3. The depression in the river bottom in which you step causing you to experience the ‘falling in’ scenario

Homage – Praise given to the angler in your party that limits out first

Homer – Halibut capitol of the world – the place to go when you want to fill your freezer full of ‘buts

Hooked –  1. When your hook has penetrated any area of a sockeye’s flesh  2. When your fishing hook has embedded itself in a nearby fisherman  3. When your hook or anyone else’s has lodged itself in your finger, cheek, head, or other gear  4. The state of being addicted to sockeye fishing

Hot – 1. The fisherman who is currently hooking or catching the most sockeye during a given period of time  2. The nature of the Alaska sun when it finally comes out

How Many Ya Got? – 1. A leading question to determine whether or not you are cheating and overlimit  2. A question asked by one fisherman who knows he has more fish than the fisherman he’s directed the question to

Humpy – 1. Nickname for a Pink Salmon  2. Derogatory remark towards a sockeye salmon, so small, that it isn’t worth keeping


I don’t mean to tell you how to fish, but… – What a sockeyer says to you when he is trying to explain to you how to properly fish an area

Idiots – 1. Roughly 60-70 percent of the people fishing for sockeye at any given time  2. The fisherman who continues to stand way out in the middle of the river when all of the sockeye are being caught close-in to the bank  3. Synonym for a ‘Bass Fisherman’

In the Mouth – 1. The only legal spot to hook a sockeye if you plan on retaining it  2. Verbalized phrase from your fisherman neighbor confirming that your hookup is legal  3. Verbalized phrase from your fisherman neighbor when you’ve foul hooked a fish in order to deceive the rest of the people around you into believing that your fish is legally hooked

Is she with you? – What a fisherman asks another fisherman before he attempts to crowd a woman out of her fishing spot

It’s a King – 1. Exclamation made by a fisherman when he hooks a large sockeye that stays down in the water  2. Exclamation made by a fisherman when he snags something on the river bottom and can’t get his hook free

It’s Off – Variant of the phrase ‘fish-off’ which normally occurs 2-3 seconds after an initial ‘fish-on’ exclamation; usually said with an emotion of disappointment


Jackass – 1. Loud, obnoxious fisherman who is fishing close to your area; easily identified by his consistent use of ‘f-bombs’  2. Synonym for a ‘dumbass’  3. Any man who attempts to crowd a female fisherman out of her rightly earned fishing spot

Jaw  – Synonym for the mouth of a sockeye salmon

Jerk – 1. The subtle set-hook motion a sockeyer uses at the end of each cast and drift  2. A fisherman who steals another’s rightly earned hole during a ‘fish-on’ battle  3. The guy who stands right behind your wife’s shoulder and starts casting his line over her’s

Jerking – 1. The motion of a fisherman who is too over aggressive in his subtle ‘set-hook’ routine  2. The motion of a fisherman which makes it very apparent that he is a snagger


Kasilof – A major river on the Kenai Peninsula which also sports a sizeable sockeye run

Kenai Line Dance – The steps performed by a fisherman when his feet and gear become tangled in his fishing line; more often than not a dance done during the night shift

Kenai River – One of the most prolific salmon producing rivers in the world; the river which supports about 75 percent of Alaska angling hours each year

Kenai Twinkle – The long period of twilight after sunset, which never really turns into ‘night’, that allows you to see shapes and outline but not observe detail

Kenai Style – The flip casting method of sockeye fishing whereby you are attempting to ‘line’ a fish in the mouth

Kicked My Ass – Grudging phrase of respect for another fisherman who hooked or caught more fish than you during a fishing session

Kids Kicking My Chair – The usual experience of a sockeyer when flying on an airplane from the Lower 48 to Alaska

King – 1. Nickname for a Chinook salmon  2. Title of respect for the best sockeye fisherman on the beach

King Fishing – Description of the stupid guy who continually casts his line 50 yards out into the middle of the river while standing in a line of sockeye fisherman

Knife – Essential piece of sockeye gear used for cleaning fish, cutting line, and when needed – self defense

Knuckled – 1. When a sockeye fisherman using a fly rod setup gets spooled so hard that the handle on his reel beats against his knuckles until they bleed; typically the result of a fly reel without a heavy enough drag   2. A good reason for upgrading to a fly reel with an anti-reverse feature


Lake Creek – 1. Mythical ‘remote’ destination that nearly every fly-out fishing service in Anchorage will take you to  2. The one piece of water that is always classified as ‘hot’ according to every fly-out service in Anchorage

Late Arrivers – 1. Sockeye fisherman who show up at 9-10am in the morning expecting to find the prime hole unoccupied  2. Anyone who gets down to the water after me

Leader – 1. Sockeye term denoting the length of line between your weights and your hook; legal minimum is 18-inches  2. The guy who talks the most in the group of four ‘Bass Fishermen’

License – 1. Essential piece of sockeye gear giving you the legal right to throw your line in the water 2. What Fish and Games takes from you in order to write down your information for your ticket.

Lightsaber defense – The act of ‘using the force’ to unconsciously raise your fishing pole with split second timing in order to intercept a fishing hook missile that is poised to strike you in the head, face, or eyes

Limited Out – The ultimate daily goal of every sockeyer – to catch and retain the legally allotted amount of sockeye each day; early in the season 3 fish, later in the season 6 fish

Line Burn – The painful melting sensation on a fisherman’s finger pads caused by a sockeye taking a lot of line in a very short period

Locals – Those people who live year around in the greater Kenai Peninsula area and rarely get to fish except on weekends (apparently they have to work for a living); on the Kenai the term does not apply to those from Anchorage as they are considered ‘Alaskans’ but also ‘out of towners’

Log Hole – 1. One of my favorite holes at my favorite fishing destination  2. Any fishing hole marked by a submerged log or log on the bank

Lucky – 1. Humble description a true sockeyer applies to himself whenever he is granted a great compliment by another  2. When an idiot or dumbass actually manages to catch a sockeye


Magic Evening – An evening fishing session on the Kenai marked by beautiful weather and surreal fishing conditions which evokes a ‘dreamlike’ feeling in the fisherman, to the point that the fisherman never wants to leave the river

Magic Rock – 1. A hole or spot that continually produces fish and is marked by the presence of a large partially submerged boulder  2. The rock or boulder one stands upon in order to get the perfect drift into a productive sockeye fishing hole

Marvin’s Rock – A small boulder along the river bank in Soldotna that marks Marvin’s favorite fishing hole and is the best spot in the world to stand to catch sockeye salmon; given the river conditions sometimes the rock is above the water line, sometimes it is submerged

Master – Term describing a sockeyer of the highest order

Medium – One of the three primary troughs that sockeye run in up the river; probably the most heavily fished of all of the troughs

Middle of the River – 1. Exaggerated term to describe where an idiot is standing when he is two steps out farther in the water than everyone else  2. Term to describe where someone is casting their line when they are not performing the normal Kenai flip casting routine

Mint Lady –  The Japanese lady who works for JAL airlines and hands out JAL breath mints to neighboring fishermen

Mind if I fish next to You? / Can I squeeze in? – 1. One of the polite ways to ask someone to yield river space to you so that you can fish in an already crowded area  2. A polite warning to neighboring fishermen that you are about to crowd into their already crowded hole whether or not they invite you in  (note: in either case they are rhetorical questions)

Mosquitoes – State bird of Alaska

Motorhomes – 1. Primary travel and lodging means of most sockeye fishermen  2. A place to sleep for 2 hours between sockeye fishing sessions  3. A place where the cleaning of your sockeye should not be performed  4. The reason it takes longer and longer each year to drive from Anchorage to the Kenai

Mr. Lame – Generic term for the dumbass from NY who tried to crowd me out of my hole this year on a 44,000 fish day when there was only 5 people on the river – because as he put it  “there’s no fish up where I’m standing – and you’re catching one all the time”

Musta Been A King – 1. Exclamation used whenever you lose a fish that doesn’t come out of the water at least once to identify itself as a sockeye  2. Term used to describe a sockeye that breaks your line in a violent manner

My Spot – 1. The fishing spot in which I am currently standing in  2. The fishing spot that I want to be standing in  3. Any of the fishing places I have ever stood in  4. The fishing spot that you are not allowed to stand in or near


Net Boy – 1. Derogatory term for someone who spends an awful lot of time netting other’s fish instead of catching his own 2. The member of the fishing party who is always assigned the duty of carrying the net to and from the vehicle

Nets – 1. A device used to land a hooked sockeye salmon; the said device which is an abomination to a true sockeyer  2. General term to describe the commercial fishing fleet

Night Shift – 1. A group of 2 or more fishermen hitting the water after sundown  2. A group of foreigners hitting the water after sundown, carrying a large coleman cooler in which to stuff their snagged fish into

No-see-ums – Pesky little biting bugs that are so small you no-see-them and can penetrate any mosquito netting


Okie – Synonym for a ‘hayseed’

One Eye – A landed fish which you have clubbed the eye out of when hitting it on the head for the kill shot….also sometimes called a Pop-Eye

On the Bank – A successfully landed legally caught sockeye

On the Water – 1. Term referring to the actual time that you started fishing  2. Actively fishing

One Step Down – 1. Verbalized advice to another fisherman to get him to slightly change his drift in order to finally hook a fish  2. Combat technique whereby you slightly move downstream to improve your drift when your opponent is out of the water dealing with a fish or not looking or paying attention

Overlimit – The act of keeping more fish than you are legally allowed on a given day


Pain – 1. Sticking your hook into a sockeye to let them know you are there  2. Giving a death blow to a landed sockeye  3. Whenever your hook or someone else’s penetrates one of your appendages

Pig – 1. Synonym for a hog  2. Description of a lost sockeye that you continue to utter to anyone who will listen for the next 30 minutes

Pink – 1. Pink Salmon (humpy)- one of the 5 species of Pacific Salmon; exceedingly plentiful in the Kenai on even numbered years  2. A color of coho fly that no self respecting sockeyer would dare to tie onto the end of his line

Possession – 1. The number of unprocessed sockeye salmon that you currently have in your care; includes those on ice in your cooler as well as those on your stringer  2. The rule that is most frequently violated by fishermen

Pringles – Brand name potato chip that when crushed makes an excellent topping for baked salmon or dolly varden

Pro – 1. General description of a competent sockeyer  2. Derisive term to mock an incompetent rookie

Processing – 1. The killing of a freshly caught and landed sockeye salmon  2. The act of vacu-sealing your cleaned sockeye salmon and placing them into a freezer  3. The act of taking your caught salmon to a commercial store to be dealt with

Pulling a Rodney – 1. Any number of goofy acts  2. Showing up in Alaska for a week’s vacation with only $7.00  3. Losing 30 coho flies in a single fishing session without ever successfully landing a legal sockeye  4. Losing someone else’s fly when they loan you their fishing pole for just a few moments  5. Hooking a sockeye that leaps out of the water, thumps you in the chest, and then spits the hook and goes free  6. Catching a 6-limit of sockeye on your first day ever in Alaska

Purple Fly – 1. The most despicable color of coho fly to a true sockeyer  2. Coho fly color of choice for the unlearned


Quiet – 1. The state of the river when you are the first one on the water in the early morning  2. A synonym for ‘slow’  3. What you wish the guy running his motorhome generator at 1am would be

Quitting – 1. What it is called when a sockeye fisherman leaves the river without having caught his limit  2. What a fisherman does when both the weather and fishing sucks  3. What a fisherman does when fishing is cold and dinner is hot



Rain – 1. Traditional Alaskan summertime weather phenomenon  2. One of the reasons the river continues to rise every day

Redfish – A term that some southerners use to describe a sockeye salmon; thus betraying their ‘Bass Fisherman’ status

Reds – Popular nickname for sockeye salmon

Redds – Gravel nesting area prepared by female sockeye salmon prior to spawning

Reel – 1. Essential piece of sockeye fishing gear; there are three basic types: fly reel, baitcaster, spinning reel – choose wisely  2. Exclamation sometimes shouted to inexperienced fishermen during a ‘fish-on’ battle with a sockeye

Regs – Short for ‘fishing regulations” the published rule governing fishing for a body of water

Released – 1. The status of a sockeye that you place back into the water when you decide not to keep it  2. What you should have done with that snagged sockeye salmon that you kept and killed  3. Phrase you use to describe a sockeye salmon that got away during a battle

Respect – 1. A goal of sockeyers  2. An admiration for other fishermen when they consistently do well  3. The attitude of sockeyers towards their prey  4. What many fishermen don’t have to the fishing environment and river which they fish upon

Retired – 1. The condition of 90 percent of the sockeye fishermen in Alaska  2. Term to describe when you left the water; similar to ‘quitting’  3. Term to describe when you went to sleep – finally

Ripping the Fin – 1. A comical method whereby ‘hacks’ and ‘butchers’ attempt to hand rip the dorsal fin off a sockeye salmon during their cleaning cycle  2. A phrase used by sockeyers to chide others who don’t know how clean their fish

Rock Fish – 1. Term to describe the act of reeling in a stone or rock attached to your fishing hook  2. Term to describe what happened when you got your line snagged on the river bottom but mistakenly called out ‘fish-on’ because you thought it was a sockeye  3. General term for some of the ocean dwelling creatures you catch while deep-sea / bottom fishing

Rods – Essential piece of fishing gear; the long pole that gives you leverage over your fishing line and hooked fish; basically three types are used in sockeye fishing – fly rod, light salmon rod, and heavy salmon rod

Roll / Rolling- Term to describe what sockeye salmon are doing as they break the surface of the water during their migration upstream

Rookie – 1. A first time sockeye fisherman  2. A fisherman that is so inept as to be thought of as a first time fisherman  3. Synonym for a ‘stupid person’

Russian River Sockeye – 1. A variety of sockeye salmon born and raised in the Russian Lakes system  2. General term to describe a small sized sockeye salmon


Sergeant Schultz – The big burly German fishing platoon leader who fanatically reels in sockeye by the tail and bonks them on the head, who when confronted by concerned law-abiding fishermen replies that “I know nothing”, and who is the keeper of the “whistle” which when blown signifies that it is drink(whiskey) time for the platoon.

Schmidtin’ Around – A tendency to want to go out to eat at a restaurant upon arrival at the fishing destination instead of gearing up to go fishing

Seagulls – Oversized trash eaters that feast and gorge themselves on salmon roe and salmon scraps, chase and harass Bald Eagles, and drop white poopy matter on inattentive fishermen

Set-hook –  1. Description of the slight tug a sockeyer uses at the end of his cast and drift  2. What a fisherman does immediately upon feeling his hook hit a sockeye

Shallow – 1. Synonym for ‘close-in’; describing one of the three major fishing troughs 2. General description of the depth of the water  3. General description of the personality of a neighboring fisherman

Shower – 1. Sockeyer luxury required at least once for every three days of fishing on the river  2. Description of a light rain storm

Shower Time – 1. Term to describe what happened to you when a sockeye has just covered you with river water  2. Exclamation you make to the fisherman next to you when your hooked sockeye splashes him with river water  3. Rallying cry after sniffing your own armpits after three days of fishing without a shower

Sight Fishing – The ability to see migrating salmon in the water and direct your cast at a visual target

Silver – 1. General nickname for a Coho Salmon  2. Near the end of the second sockeye run, what you call a big fish that breaks you off  3. Description of the bright coloring of an ocean fresh sockeye  4. A question (A silver?) another fisherman asks you regarding a huge sockeye that you’ve just landed

Six Limit – 1. Legal status that allows you to retain six sockeye salmon on a given day 2. The ultimate goal of every sockeye fisherman

Skeeters – 1. Slang for mosquitoes; the state bird of Alaska  2. A nickname that you might give to a group of hayseed bass fishermen

Skunked – 1. Catching and retaining zero fish during a given fishing session or fishing day  2. An intolerable condition for a true sockeyer  3. Cribbage term where you lose by 31 to 60 points, resulting in the loss of two games instead of one  4. A reason to laugh at a fellow fisherman

Slabs – The thick filets from a really nice sockeye salmon

Slayer – 1. Term for a sockeyer that really catches a lot of fish  2. Term most young sockeyers use to describe themselves  3. A really loud, obnoxious heavy metal band

Sleeved – An event whereby you land a fish on the bank and then through some awkward and/or clumsy move on your part, you drop your landed fish back into the water – thus precipitating the need for you to jam one or both of your clothed arms into the river in frantic search for the runaway fish.

Slow – 1. Description of the fishing conditions when there are no fish coming by in good numbers  2. Deceptive description of the fishing conditions told to another fisherman to discourage him from going fishing in your spot

Smoker –  1. Description of a really dark or blushed fish; its meat is only good for the smoker  2. Small low temp oven-like contraption that turns sockeye salmon into the most delicious of meals  3. The idiot fisherman next to you who constantly blows his cigarette or cigar smoke your way

Snag – 1. The purposeful intent to catch a sockeye by hooking him anywhere in the body or tail  2. Term to describe the item on the river bottom that your hook keeps sticking into; such as a stick or rock

Snagged – 1. A sockeye hooked anywhere but in the mouth  2. When your line catches something on the river bottom such as a stick or rock  3. The verbalized description of the hooked fish of the guy fishing next to you who you don’t like

Snagger -1. Synonym for a cheater; a fisherman who consistently catches or hooks more sockeye than you do  2. A fisherman who continually hooks his sockeye in the tail, belly, or dorsal fin  3. A fisherman who pulls so hard at the end of his drift, you know he doesn’t know how to really fish

Snagging – The consistent hooking of sockeye in places other than its mouth

Sockeye – 1. Proper name for a ‘red’ salmon  2. Best darned fish to eat in the world (my opinion)  3. The name of a fine halibut guide boat in Homer  4. The reason that I go to Alaska every year

Sockeyer – The title of an accomplished sockeye fisherman notated by his years of pre-occupation and devotion to the craft, his knowledge of combat tactics, his ability to adjust and adapt to various fishing circumstances, and his consistent ability to catch fish when no one else is

Soldotna – The finest small town in America; located on the Kenai Peninsula

Spawner – Reference to a caught sockeye that has been in fresh water long enough to have changed into its spawning colors

Split Shot – Essential sockeyer tackle; round lead weight that can be crimped onto a fishing line

Split-Whole – My wife’s term for the method of cleaning a small sockeye by slitting its belly and removing the guts, while keeping the fish head attached

Spooled – A 10-second event whereby a hooked sockeye peels all of the line off of your reel, breaks the holding knot, and leaves you with an empty reel, no fish, and an embarrassed look

Steelhead – 1. A condescending description of a really small scrawny sockeye; generally used to describe the condition of sockeye when fishing up near the confluence of the Russian/Kenai Rivers  2. A large sea-run version of a rainbow trout

Stickleback – A small 2-3 inch bullhead-like fish that is often incidentally speared in the head while fishing for sockeye; looks like a small ling-cod or sculpin

Stringer – 1. A long piece of rope or line that is used to hold caught sockeye  2. The term to describe the group of sockeye that you’ve caught

Stupid People – 1. Fishermen who don’t have any of the basic sockeye fishing skills; casting, reeling, landing  2. Fishermen who continually stand too far out into the river when all of the sockeye are being caught in the shallows  3. Fishermen who refuse to pay attention to what is going on around them; and therefore don’t learn to make the necessary adjustments to catch a fish

Sucking – Description you apply to yourself when you have a long string of hooking and losing fish; or when you are unable to hook into fish when other people are

Surf’s Up – Exclamation uttered by bank anglers when a powered jet boat blows by creating a really large wake; (see Swiftwater Bill)

Swiftwater Bill – 1. Resident Kenai fishing guide voted by sockeye bank anglers as creator of the biggest bank eroding boat wakes  2. The scourge of bank anglers wearing hip boots


Taped Up – The act of a sockeyer applying gray tape to his fingertips for protection in order to prevent the wear and tear of many hours of sockeye fishing

Tarp – Essential all around piece of camping gear; useful for making camp, lining the ground for a tent site, protecting valuables from the rain

Terns – Small white gulls which flit around the air in large groups then suddenly fall from the sky into the water one at a time in order to snatch their preyThe Claw – Physical condition in the fishing hand of a sockeyer in which the hand freezes in a claw shape due to excessive hours of fishing without a break

The Count – Reference to the daily sockeye sonar count

The Man – Term of respect to describe a sockeye fisherman who is catching fish at a much higher rate than anyone else

The Other Mouth – A nice way of describing a sockeye hooked in its anus

The Russian – 1. Reference to The Russian River in general  2. More frequently a reference to the area at the confluence of The Russian / Kenai Rivers  3. One of the many foreigners that is standing in your favorite hole

The Spot – 1. Typically a reference to the hottest hole where the most fish are being caught or hooked during the day  2. Mythical place you tell your friends about when retelling stories of your greatest day of fishing  3. The place in the river where you hooked your last fish

Three-Limits – 1. Early season regulation allowing a fisherman to catch and keep only 3 fish in a given day  2. A regulation that limits the number of fish a sockeyer can keep early in the season, while at the same time making it easier to find a spot on the river due to quicker fisherman turnover  3. A minimum daily goal for any sockeyer

Thick – 1. Description applied to the fishing conditions when there are so many sockeye present that it is hard not to hook one on every cast  2. Description of a really big sockeye 3. Description of a ‘stupid person’ who just doesn’t watch and learn

Ticket – 1. Fish and Game’s method of taxing me for all of the fish I’ve caught over the years  2. What all of those other snaggers standing next to me deserved

Tickling the Rocks – Term to describe your futile fishing efforts which have resulted in your fly only hooking and bouncing along the rocks on the river bottom instead of hooking into fish

Tide – Reference to when the timing of ‘high tide’ is during the day in expectation of the coming push of sockeye into the river

Tiny – 1. Reference to a small Russian River Red or jack salmon  2. What my fish usually look like in comparison to my wife’s fish

Tomato Patch – 1. A section of water at the mouth of the Funny River where dark maroon Kings hang-out  2. General phrase to describe any holding pool that contains dark fish

Too Small – 1. Phrase used to explain why you lost a fish that you had hooked and played for a few minutes  2. Reason why you throw back some of those Russian River Reds during the second sockeye run on the Kenai

Torpedo Fish – Description of the large male sockeye that arrive during the last few days of the run; so named because they are so big and plump that they resemble a torpedo when they burst out of the water

Touristo – 1. Condescending term to describe a fisherman who looks really out of place on the river  2. How locals refer to anyone from out of state

Tree – Archenemy of all sockeye fishermen, responsible for a large number of lost flies and broken rod tips

Trolling for Halibut? / Casting for Kings? – Questions you ask a fisherman who continually casts his line way out into the river instead of flip-casting like everyone else is doing

Trout – Rainbow trout; native species to the Kenai River system; usually an incidental catch during sockeye fishing; like a dolly varden it is recommended that these fish be returned to the river unharmed

Trying Too Hard – A problem a sockeyer has to deal with when he gets too impatient to catch a fish; usually leads to a high rate of foul-hooking

Turkey Shoot – Description of a period of time when the sockeye are ‘in’ so thick that you hook up on almost every cast


Underneath – A term to describe a sockeye that is hooked in the belly

Useless – 1. A term to describe a fisherman that has no chance of catching a fish and is wasting a valuable spot on the river  2. Synonym for a ‘stupid person’


Victory – 1. When a fisherman catches his limit before anyone else in his group  2. Description of a real tough battle with a hooked sockeye that finally ends up in a legal catch

View – Usually a spectacular bonus that comes with fishing in Alaska


Walking the Beach – A fishing technique used when there is plenty of open space whereby a fisherman makes a few casts and slowly steps down the river until he runs into the holding school of sockeye; similar to ‘cast and step down’; the technique is usually applied at night or early morning when the fishing is slow and the river bank is uncrowded

Wasting Space – 1. Similar to ‘Useless’; a fisherman who is not going to catch a fish and is taking up a valuable spot on the river

What Color They Biting On? – Question asked by a fisherman revealing his lack of understanding of sockeye fisherman and revealing his true ‘Bass Fisherman’ status

Where Ya From? – The stereotypical question asked by fisherman when fishing next to someone new for the first time; a conversational ice-breaker

Woodpeckers? – A question you ask a fellow fisherman when his line continually ends up in the trees behind him




Yanker – Synonym for a ‘snagger’; a fisherman who yanks really hard at the end of every cast

Yarn Fly – Term to denote a fishing setup composed of a bare hook with yarn tied onto it; in contrast to a pre-made coho fly


Zip – 1. The sound that your line and reel makes when a sockeye peels off fifty yards of drag in 2 seconds  2. Also known as the sound the immediately precedes a ‘line burn’  3. Synonym for ‘skunked’; having caught no fish


(If You’re Gonna Fish In My Spot, Then You’d Better Learn The Language!)

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