Why it's OK to Snag Sockeye Salmon

The Kodiak Islands are famous for their enormous salmon runs, and I was smack dab in the middle of the sockeye run during my fishing trip on Afognak Island. My buddy Luke Randall sent me a picture a few days before my arrival of a school of hundreds of sockeye (red salmon) making their way up a small creek. I could hardly stand the wait, and before I knew it, we were pulling up into a lagoon chock full of silversides.

Reds are basically just krill feeders, and will almost never bite a lure. This means the best way to catch them is to snag them with a weighted treble hook. There's no doubt that snagging salmon is considered despicable by a certain class of anglers (which is a class I will never be able to attain), and it's also illegal in some states. But is snagging reds really wrong?

I guess some argue that it's only "fair" when you fool the fish into biting a hook. I disagree. The fact is that, generally, reds don't bite, so if you want to catch them you'd better get creative. Even people who flyfish for them do what's called flossing. They essentially use the current to sweep the line into a fish's open mouth and then snag it. In fact, I'd argue that it's more challenging to snag reds in salt water than it would be to catch them if they did take lures.

While we don't snag them on every drift, I guarantee you that in a lagoon choked with willing reds they'd hit a lure as soon as it hit the water.

What are your thoughts?