We examined somatic energy patterns in two stocks (Chilko and Early Stuart) of adult Fraser River (British Columbia, Canada) sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), collected at the end of their ocean residency, spanning years across different climate regimes. Both stocks had high levels of somatic energy in years with high open ocean productivity (1956, 1957, 2001 and 2002), and relatively low levels in years with poor open ocean productivity (1999 and 2000). For Early Stuart sockeye, energy levels in 1999 and 2000 were approximately 15% lower (∼1.5 MJ kg−1) than that in the 1950s, an amount of energy equivalent to that necessary for migrating 600 km upriver. In recent years (2001 and 2002), energy levels have increased by about 9% for both stocks. Low energy levels at the onset of upriver migration, particularly in years of energetically demanding in-river conditions, such as high flows or temperatures, are likely to contribute to prespawning and en route mortality in Fraser sockeye.