The pinks are running

September 1, 2009

By Dallas Cross

Dallas Cross

Dallas Cross

Fish Journal

I have been asked several times where to fish if one does not have access to a boat.

The answer has just arrived in Puget Sound. The pinks are in and ready to run up virtually every river emptying into the sound.

Pink is a nickname for the salmon that arrive in August to spawn in our rivers every odd-numbered year. They are commonly known as pink or humpy salmon. They are the most numerous salmon in North Pacific waters and American rivers, mainly spawning from Alaska to the Columbia River.

They are called pinks because their flesh is much lighter and pink in color. Their nickname has a double meaning, because to catch them you can’t go wrong using pink flies and lures.

Pinks hang out in shallow saltwater and close to shore, especially during their migration back to the river where they hatched. This means you can fish for them from many shores with a public access. With a fly rod, be prepared to wade out to cast a No. 4 or 6, pink or chartreuse fly with flashy tinsel strips about as far as you can throw; or with a spinning rod you may stay relatively dry near the beach and cast a floating bobber with flies or jigs beneath it.Successful folks also cast pink- or red-striped metal lures; retrieving them with rapid jerks. The best fishing time is at first light in the morning and on incoming tidal currents.

The place to fish for pinks is not a secret. Scout the public parks and go where they border salt water. You will know when you are in a good spot because you will invariably see other fisherpersons maneuvering for casting room on the shore.

When you hook up with a pink, you will find they don’t give up easily, even though they only weigh from three to five pounds. When you bring them to net, loosen your line drag and be prepared for the violent last struggle they usually make. You should confirm the identity of the salmon as a pink because chinook, or king, salmon juveniles, and resident blackmouth salmon, look similar. Now, all chinook salmon must be immediately released back into the water. State fish and wildlife agents are surveying more docks and shores to find lawbreakers.

To identify pink salmon you need to review the descriptions posted along with the current fishing regulations by the state fish and wildlife department in its booklets or on the Internet. Check there also for limits and limitations in gear. Pink salmon are legal to keep within current salmon limits and you may harvest two in addition to the regular salmon limit.

They are characterized by a white mouth with black gums, large oval-shaped black spots on the back and a V-shaped tail with no silver color on it.

Pink salmon make fine fare if cooked shortly after catching. Cut the gills and bleed the fish immediately after catching. Keep it on ice in the chest you are sitting on while fishing.

There is an encore. After the pinks enter the rivers to spawn they can be caught from river banks. Fly casting is productive in slower waters but pink spoons and drifting corkies with pink yarn fished near the stream bottom do very well in faster water.

You can catch pink salmon in the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Green, Skagit, and Stillaguamish Rivers — all not very far away.

Reach Dallas Cross at View previous articles at Comment on this column at

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One Response to “The pinks are running”

  1. Kerry on September 2nd, 2009 3:42 pm

    Loved your article. lots of good information not just on Pink fishing but Salmon Identification also. I am putting a link to it on my Blog.

    Thanks for the great article,


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