The Pink Salmon goes by several different names such as the Humpback Salmon or just Humpy. They spawn only every two years, and those years happen to be the even numbered year. So this being 2014 you will not see the adults in the rivers again until 2016. These are smaller salmon reaching only 25 inches in length and weighing in between 3.5 and 5 pounds. Quite a contrast to their monster cousins the King salmon. They have a two-year life cycle and the fry migrate immediately after hatching to the ocean where they feed and grow for the next two years. They get their humpy name from the males at spawning time that develop a hump on their back, and their jaws appear to be hooked. So why are these fish so popular? One reason is that they are the most populous fish they even show up in greater numbers then the red salmon do.
A Note about setting the Hook with Pinks
The jaws and mandibles of Pink Salmon are fairly soft, and that causes problems when you try to set the hook. Unlike other salmon you don't have set the hook hard to hook the fish. If you give the line a good yank, you will pull the hook right through the soft mandibles and lose the fish.
Where to find Pinks?
Because they spawn every two years their spawning runs are huge. You can find Pinks almost everywhere except in the deepest parts of the inland region. So many fish need a lot of places to spawn, so the population spread out across the coastal regions of most of Alaska. When the Pinks are in the rivers, they love to lounge in the deep holes. When the coho salmon are in the rivers, they sometimes chase the Pinks out of the deep holes. If that is the case, you will find the Pinks in the currents, usually, in water that is no more than 2-3 feet deep.
What flies do you use for catching Pink Salmon?
What I am about to type here sometimes causes an argument among fishermen, but I will type it anyway. Jigs work well on Pink Salmon. You can fish with jigs with a spinning rod, or you can use a fly pole. Jigging is a motion that requires some thought. The overall goal is to raise the jig up from the bottom and let it fall again. Fish strike a jig as it pauses or begins to fall back towards the bottom. The speed of the jigging rhythm is also important. If you are using, jigs adjust the rhythm to match the rivers speed. Don't be ashamed to jig for Pinks.
You can also fish Pinks with sinking flies. Pinks rarely hit a dry fly. Flies have an okay strike ratio but the jigs seem to attract the Pinks. They are interested in the motion of the fly or jig, especially if they are in a deep hole.
Pink, Pink, Pink and More Pink
The Pink Salmon has a favorite color, and it is Fuchsia Pink. They won't hit a white or green or blue or black fly or jig, but they will go after a Pink fly or jig with abandon. That is probably the best tip around for catching Pink Salmon. Some flies and jigs by common names:
- Fly - Humpy Hooker - in Pink
- Fly - Alaska Hot Bugger - in Pink
- Fly - Clouser Minnow - in Pink
- Fly - Coho Kryptonite - in Pink
- Fly - Conehead Candy Cane - in Pink
- Jig - Hoochie Jigs - In Pink or Pink and white
- Jig - Wordons Maxi Jig - in Pink
- Jig - Areo Jig Marabou - in Pink
Some of the Pink steelhead flies also work well on Pink Salmon. Just remember that they love the color Pink. I would highly recommend trying a jig and to jig when you are out fishing for Pinks. It may seem unconventional, or the guide might even wonder what the heck you are doing, but after a few minutes you might change your guides mind about jigging. There are, usually, enough Pinks in the river in their spawning year that you have the freedom to explore some other styles of fishing. Try the jig. Coho's like the jig method too... so if you entice a coho to bite, the fight will be just that much better.
Tying Your Own Pink Salmon Flies