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Pink Salmon Fishing in Alaska

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The Pink Salmon goes by several different names, including the Humpback Salmon or just Humpy. They get their humpy name because, at spawning time, the males develop a hump on their back (side note on appearance, their jaws appear to be hooked). Pink salmon only spawn every two years, and those years happen to be the even numbered calendar year. So get on the water during even years because you will not see the adults in the rivers for another two.

The species are a smaller salmon, only reaching 25 inches in length and weighing between 3.5 and 5 pounds – this is quite a contrast to their monster cousins, the king salmon. Pink salmon have a two-year life cycle and the fry migrate to the ocean immediately after hatching, where they feed and grow for those two years.

So why are these fish so popular? One reason is that they are the most populous species. They even show up in greater numbers than the red salmon do.

Pink Salmon
Pink Salmon

Quick Note: Setting the Hook with Pink Salmon

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 want to set the hook hard because you could easily pull the hook right through the soft mandibles and lose a great catch.

Where to find Pink Salmon?

The spawning runs of pink salmon are large because they only spawn every two years. As a result, the population spreads out across most of the Alaska coastal regions during the spawn and anglers can find them almost everywhere in Alaska. The exception is that you won't typically find them in the deepest parts of the inland region. When the pinks are in the rivers, they love to lounge in the deep holes. When silver salmon are in the rivers, they sometimes chase the pinks out of the deep holes. If that is the case, you will find pink salmon in the currents – usually in water that is no more than 2-3 feet deep. The lesson…be aware of the coho salmon population when you are targeting pink salmon.

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. Try it! You can jig for pink salmon with a spinning rod or you can choose to 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, be sure and adjust the rhythm to match the rivers speed. Don't be ashamed to jig for pinks.

You can also fish for pink salmon 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

Pink salmon have 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 to consider when targeting pink salmon, by common names:

Some of the pink steelhead flies also work well. Just remember that they love the color pink. As noted above, I would highly recommend trying a jig when you are out fishing for pinks. It may seem unconventional, and 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.

Incredible Day of Fly Fishing for Pink Salmon in Alaska

Tying Your Own Pink Salmon Flies

Top Fishing Trips for Pink Salmon


Alaska Trophy Adventures Lodge
Alaska Trophy Adventures Lodge
Alaska's Premier Fishing and Bear Viewing Lodge Since 1988 | Remote Fly-In Fishing Lodge on the Alagnak River
150 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
Package: Comfort Lodge Package
Package: Safari Style Fixed Spike Camp Package
Wilderness Place Lodge
Wilderness Place Lodge
Incredible Selection of Fishing, Wildlife & Adventure Packages in a Remote Location | Perfect for Families, Couples, Groups & Guests with Limited Fishing Experience to Expert Anglers
149 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $5,000 to $6,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
Package: Fly-In Overnight Wine/Dine/Fishing Special
Package: 2022 Alaska Fishing Lodge Packages
Katmai Lodge
Katmai Lodge
Ready for the Trip of a Lifetime at Our Remote Alaska Fishing Lodge? | Experience the Best Fishing in Alaska, Abundant Wildlife & Exceptional Service at Katmai Lodge
141 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $6,000 to $7,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $5,000 to $6,000 Per Person
Package: 3 Night Stay - $3,985 Per Person
Package: 4 Night Stay - $5,285 Per Person
Kodiak Island Resort
Kodiak Island Resort
Remote, World-Class Sport-Fishing Lodge on Kodiak Island, Alaska | Experience Kodiak Island's outstanding fishing, magnificent scenery, abundant wildlife and our fishing lodge's four-star service!
126 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $5,000 to $6,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
Package: 2022 Alaska Fishing Lodge Packages
Salmon Falls Resort
Salmon Falls Resort
Premier All-Inclusive Ketchikan Fishing & Adventure Lodge | Choose From Guided or Self-Guided Fishing and Customize with Adventure & Sightseeing Options
93 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $5,000 to $6,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $3,000 to $4,000 Per Person
Package: Fully Guided Fishing Package
Package: Self Guided Fishing Package
No See Um Lodge
No See Um Lodge
World Renowned Alaska Fishing Lodge, Unforgettable Experience - It’s one of the last truly pristine wilderness areas left in the world. Endless miles of crystal clear rivers teeming with wild rainbow trout and huge chinook salmon.
76 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $9,000+ Per Person
Package: Flexible and Customized Fishing Program
Alaska FishOn! Charters
Alaska FishOn! Charters
Affordable Kenai Peninsula Fishing & Lodging Packages | Kenai River, Kasilof River, Cook Inlet & Fly-In Fishing Options
67 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $1,000 to $2,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $500 to $1,000 Per Person
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person
Current Special: 4-Day Salmon & Halibut 'Captain's Special' Package (August & Sept)
Angler's Alibi
Angler's Alibi
World Class Fly-Fishing on the Alagnak River | Remote Fly-In Fishing Camp
38 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $3,000 to $4,000 Per Person
Island Point Lodge
Island Point Lodge
Self-Guided Fishing on Alaska's Inside Passage | Fishing for Salmon, Halibut, Trout, Steelhead & More | Packages Include Fishing Boats & Gear, Lodging & Meals
28 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $2,000 to $3,000 Per Person
Frontier River Guides
Frontier River Guides
3 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
Aniak Air Guides
Aniak Air Guides
Remote Alaska Fishing, Wildlife & Rafting Adventures Since 1955 | Choose From an All-Inclusive Guided Lodge Package or a Budget Friendly Self-Guided Float Fishing Trip
6 - 7 Days: $2,000 to $3,000 Per Person
Package: Unguided Float Fishing Trip
Package: Fully Guided Fishing Lodge Package
Rust's Flying Service
Rust's Flying Service
1201 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Full Day: $500 to $599 Per Person; $600 to $699 Per Person
Baranof Fishing Excursions
Baranof Fishing Excursions
1184 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $200 to $299 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person; $300 to $399 Per Person
Ninilchik Charters
Ninilchik Charters
779 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person
Island Wings Air Service Fly-Out Fishing Tours
Island Wings Air Service Fly-Out Fishing Tours
743 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $500 to $599 Per Person
Full Day: $800 to $899 Per Person
Rum Runner Charters
Rum Runner Charters
540 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person; $200 to $299 Per Person
Full Day: $300 to $399 Per Person; $400 to $499 Per Person
The Alaska Catch
The Alaska Catch
292 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person; $300 to $399 Per Person
Ketchikan Helicopters
Ketchikan Helicopters
285 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $400 to $499 Per Person
The Local Guy - Charters & Sightseeing
The Local Guy - Charters & Sightseeing
273 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $200 to $299 Per Person; $300 to $399 Per Person
Full Day: $300 to $399 Per Person; $400 to $499 Per Person
North Country Charters
North Country Charters
271 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person
Ketchikan Charter Boats
Ketchikan Charter Boats
197 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $200 to $299 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person; $300 to $399 Per Person
AAA Sportfishing Company
AAA Sportfishing Company
155 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person
Gwin's Lodge
Gwin's Lodge
155 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $1,000 to $2,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $1,000 to $2,000 Per Person
Alaska Heavenly Lodge
Alaska Heavenly Lodge
146 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $2,000 to $3,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $1,000 to $2,000 Per Person
ProFish-n-Sea Charters
ProFish-n-Sea Charters
136 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $200 to $299 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person; $300 to $399 Per Person
Orca Adventure Lodge
Orca Adventure Lodge
124 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $2,000 to $3,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $1,000 to $2,000 Per Person
Talon Lodge
Talon Lodge
114 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
4 - 5 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
Redoubt Mountain Lodge
Redoubt Mountain Lodge
112 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $5,000 to $6,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $4,000 to $5,000 Per Person
Fishology Alaska
Fishology Alaska
107 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
6 - 7 Days: $2,000 to $3,000 Per Person
4 - 5 Days: $1,000 to $2,000 Per Person
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person; $300 to $399 Per Person
Alaskan Angling Adventures
Alaskan Angling Adventures
106 Reviews - TripAdvisor® Traveler Rating
Half Day: $150 to $199 Per Person; $200 to $299 Per Person
Full Day: $200 to $299 Per Person