Pinks on the Fly
Every two years something special happens in our northern west coast water ways. The Pink Salmon (Onchorhynchus) return to our waters to spawn. This offers an amazing opportunity for all fly fishermen, rookie or seasoned, to battle some bigger and stronger fish with a reduced risk of being skunked.
Pink Salmon are the smallest of the 7 salmon species that reside in our coastal waters. They have a shorter life span and return to spawn every 2 years. Their returns are usually very heavy and provide vital nutrient enrichment for all of the eco systems they return to.
They inhabit all the coastal waters in the northern pacific and spawn from Alaska to northern Califonia and from Russia down to Japan. There is also a self sustaining population which was introduced into Canada's great lakes.
They get their name from the pink color of their meat which is very distinguishable form the other salmon species, which are much more orange or red in color.
On the west coast of BC, they return on odd years. 2023 being an odd year, meant pinks were on the table for a few weekend fly fishing missions. We gathered up a small crew consisting of our close friend Chris Wheeler, his father Wheezer, and my sons Aiden and Riley and headed up to a spot we knew would be a little less crowded. Due to the large return numbers and the ability to harvest, we knew it would be shoulder to shoulder fishing. With that in mind we picked a system which had a zero retention regulation. Even with that it was still pretty busy, but we found enough room to to have our own zone and feel secluded enough from the other fishermen and women out there.
When it comes to Pinks, pink is the color! Nothing too big but also nothing too small. Too big and they will ignore it, too small and it is a bit if an issue setting the hook. Especially with when the males have a big distorted kypy maw. I tied up a few of our Buntzen buggers on size 4 barbless hooks and they worked perfectly.
We found the Salmon to be quite close to shore. Within 20 to 30 feet in slower moving water, 3 to 4 feet deep. This really makes it easier for those novice fly fishers to cast out to where the fish hold and actually connect with one! A fast retrieve seemed to be the tactic for us too. We were using float lines with a 9 foot sink tip. Four feet of 1x leader and then our fly. Cast out and start stripping immediately. Boom. Fish on. Sometimes they were taking it mere feet from where we were standing.
It was fast and fun fishing for sure. Even these powerful little fish can take you well into your backing or snap you off if you do not play them right. So get them on your your reel fast and let your drag do some of the work.
After these last few weekends, we cannot wait for the 2025 return!