Pink Salmon

There are many different types of salmon species in the world. Knowing just exactly which one you have caught can be a little tricky, especially if you are new to fishing. One thing we all know for sure though is that there is no better feeling than catching that fish after waiting patiently. Anyway, here is our guide to help you determine if what you have is a Pink Salmon.

What is a Pink Salmon

The Pink Salmon is the smallest of the salmon species, with the typical size of a fully grown adult being between 18 and 30 inches long. Their weight is usually between 4 to 6 pounds. Although, it is possible to catch a Pink Salmon weighing in at around 12 pounds. It is the most abundant salmon along the North Pacific and makes for great finishing prey. The Pink Slamon has a short life span of the salmon species of only around two years. They are an anadromous species that are hatched in the freshwater of the rivers before they migrate out to the saltwater of the ocean. Every year there is a huge migration of Pink Salmon as they head up the river systems to spawn. However, there is an odd year and even year population split due to their two-year lifespan. Meaning that half the species migrate to spawn one year, the other half the next year, and never the twain shall meet.

The Pink Salmon is known by the loving pseudonym the humpback salmon. This is due to the fact that the males grow a large hump on their back prior to spawning. Juvenile Pink Salmon are colored completely silver. However, while in the ocean, the adults have a bright blueish green color along their tops with a luscious silver down their sides. As the adults mature and get ready for the spawning season, they change. The males develop a brown or black back, and their underbellies turn to bright white. On the other hand, the females have a bright white underbelly which transforms into an olive green with patches that are dark gold or lavender in color. Along with the hump, the males will also develop hooked jaws known as a kype.

Where to Fish for Pink Salmon

Pink Salmon are a cold-water fish, generally preferring waters of around 10 degrees celsius. They are fish native to the Arctic and North Pacific coastal regions and the river systems that belong to this area. They have been known to frequent sea basins, creeks, and lakes, enjoying their time in freshwater rivers too. For example, in British Colombia, a great place to find Pink Salmon is in the Fraser and Skeena river systems. You can also find them in the waters of Alaska as well as in parts of Washington state, Oregon, and as far south as central-northern California. Though in this region, their numbers are fairly limited. If you venture to Vancouver island in Britsh Colombia, you will have found a great spot for fishing Pink Salmon. Oyster River and Campbell River are great places in this region too. 

In the summer, Pink Salmon enjoy feeding and staging in areas such as bays and inlets close to rivers before they embark on their spawning migration. Hundreds of thousands of Pinks tend to congregate in the top 100 inches of water. However, they like to spawn in the lower and middle regions of rivers’ tidal reach. Meaning this is where you will most likely find them. Although they can spawn in the upper reaches of a river’s tide, they much prefer the lower depths. Rivers with a huge number of spawning Pink Salmon will mean that you will be able to find them spawning much further up the river and even into their associated tributaries as well.  

Pink Salmon Fun Facts

This is the part of the guide everyone loves. Why not try to remember a few of these fun facts about the Pinks listed below to impress some of your Angler friends:

  • The world record for a Pink Salmon is a 14 pound 13-ounce fish, which was caught in 2001 in Monroe, Washington.
  • They only live for a two-year cycle, and that means they migrate in their second year.
  • In some river systems, such as the Alganak River in Alaska, Pink Salmon are only known to migrate on even years.
  • Adult Pinks who migrate upriver to spawn do not eat.
  • Pink Salmon feast upon plankton and crustaceans, but they have been known to consume smaller fish species, squid, and aquatic insects. 
  • It is the crustaceans that the Pinks eat which cause their meat to turn pink.
  • They have many predators, basically anything larger than they are. This includes killer whales, bears – we’ve all seen that iconic brown bear image where they are catching fish in the river, – birds, and human beings, etc.
  • They are a great species to eat due to their flavor and high Omega-3 content. 
  • If you suffer from high uric acid, the Pinks are not such a great food for you to eat because they can, unfortunately, cause gout.
  • The Omega-3 content is mostly congregated around the Pinks bellies. 
  •  You can cook Pink Salmon in a variety of different ways, which we will go into a little later.
  • The Pink Salmon is actually known as quite an aggressive fish. They have been known to attack things such as stiped flies on a whim. This means they are relatively easy to catch.
  • Although local populations have decreased in recent years around California and Washington, the species is not endangered. 
  • Pink Salmon tend not to interbreed, yet, if this does happen, the babies come out sterile.
  • Juvenile Pinks are not neutrally buoyant. After they hatch and come out of the gravel, they have to swim up to the surface and consume air bubbles. These bubbles are transferred to their bladders, so they avoid sinking to the bottom of the river.
  • The main threat to the Pink Salmon is overfishing.

Top Pink Salmon Fishing Lures and Tips 

Due to the relative ease of catching Pink Salmon, the fishing technique used for catching them are pretty simple. Anglers of all abilities should be able to pick up the techniques and master them in no time. Any jigs, lures, and flies that are brightly colored, especially in pinks, reds, oranges, and green, have no problem in attracting Pinks. They simply love chasing these baits around. Also, remember that a bright lure is essential if you are fishing in silty rivers with low visibility. Another thing to bear in mind is that you need to ensure that the lure that you choose is heavy enough to delve deep enough into the water to attract the Pinks. A quarter to three-eights of an ounce should be enough.

The rods and reels you purchase for fishing Pinks should not be on the heavy side. After all, they are a smaller species of salmon, and you want to have a little bit of fun with them. A 7 or 8 weight rod should be perfect for your needs. However, anywhere between 6 and 10 should do the trick. You will want your rod to be a light or medium type action, and a flexible rod is the best type you can get for fishing Pinks. Depending on your style of fishing, you can choose from various lengths of rod. For spinning, a 6-foot rod should be sufficient. If you are more inclined to do drifting in streams, then a 10-foot rod is what you need. If fly fishing is your thing, you will need a 5 or 6 weighted rod.

Can you eat Pink Salmon?

Pink Salmon is perfectly safe to eat. You can even eat it raw as long as it was frozen correctly as dictated by the FDA. You basically need to freeze it as soon as you catch it to -30 -40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a popular method in places such as Japan as they serve it as sushi or nigiri, and there is it called Sake. However, if the raw kid of fish is not your thing, there are many ways to cook it to perfection. You can smoke it, bake it, fry, and grill it, depending on your preferred style. Some chefs cook the Pink Salmon using the poêle method, which enables it to stew in its own juices. This is great if you want your Pink to have a beautiful crispy skin but a soft texture underneath. You can also make a sour soup called Sinigang out of Pink Salmon. However, for the more at-home traditional ways of cooking, you can stick it in the oven wrapped in tin foil. Before you do this, marinate the fish with a few sprigs of dill and lemon, or another form of citrus if you prefer, like orange. Feel free to put rosemary on it, and don’t forget the butter. You can also add garlic and salt for that extra flavor. Once you have coated your salmon, simply wrap it up and grill on a medium heat for 18 or so minutes.