River fishing for pinks!

River Fishing For Pinks

It’s the year for pinks! While they may not be sought after for their table fare, they sure are a heck of a lot of fun to catch and a great way to get your family and children out. So ladies, read up and impress those around your with your new skills in fishing for pinks. They’re fun, easy, and ABUNDENT!

Pink salmon, AKA humpy salmon, migrate every other year. They take over our salt water and rivers for about 6 weeks every other August and September. If you are trying for kings and coho, they can be quite the nuisance, however, when you intend to target pinks, you’re almost guaranteed a great day with great rewards. The salmon begin entering the salt water RIGHT NOW! Yes, mid to late July is when you will start seeing them in areas of the salt water, especially Hoodsport and Sekiu. You’ll begin to see them in the lower Puget Sound area in early to mid-August and then the rivers will be full until about mid to late September.

Skagit: 1.23 million

Green: 1.35 million

Puyallup: 1.24 million

Nisqually:  .76 million (764,937)

Hoodsport:  .52 million (51,647)

These fish are fairly small but very feisty. They are typically 4-6 lbs and tend to mill around in slow, deep water; much like a coho. Once the fish enter the rivers, they turn a greenish color and get the obvious characteristic, a hump. Not the prettiest of the salmon, but if you catch in the saltwater and cook right away, they can be good eating, and my favorite, they have AMAZING eggs for bait. I dream of the freezer full of quart jars after a humpy year. Because it’s so easy to go in the rivers on days after work and get your limit of hens, I focus on the rivers primarily over the salt water. Here’s how you can catch them in the freshwater:

Float fishing with a jig:

These fish will be everywhere. Because they are everywhere, it’s difficult to “define” holding water. However, to fish them effectively, that is willing to bite and hook inside the mouth; you may only want to target specific types of water and current.

  • You want to use a smaller jig, winter steelhead size and patterns.  1/8 oz jig heads with PINK!
  • This is the perfect technique for children because you’ll use this technique in slow, deep water and there is something for them to watch, rather than feel; which can sometime be difficult to explain to young children.
  • You will want a little bit of current, but just fast enough to give your jig action and not so fast that you need to recast by the time your fishing effectively
  • Fish in the 3-6 ft water column

Slow retrieve with a Dick Nite:

Humpies were really what put Dick Nites on the market and they have been perfectly crafted to be able to fish in many techniques and water speeds.

  • You want to use the smallest Dick Nite and while most colors work, I always prefer the 50/50 or solid pink (with sparkles!).
  • Add a barrel swivel above the Dick Nite and tie directly to your main line. One knot, no leaders; such a simple set up!
  • Cast on the far back edge of a slew with little to no current. Let the sure sink for a few second and begin to slowly reel to you.
  • You can fish using a slow retrieve, or put on a drift fishing setup (using a dropper for the weight instead of directly to the swivel. The Dick Nite is not buoyant and will not float like normal Corkies or bait so you need the dropper to keep the Dick Nite off the bottom.

Twitching jigs:

Alright! This is my favorite technique for pinks. This can be done in all sorts of water, is a simple setup, and you almost never miss a bite. Half of the fun of twitching jigs for pinks, is tying up tons of jigs. Almost anything works and unlike steelhead jigs, you catch a lot more so you quickly find out which jigs produce and which ones maybe need to be retired.

  • Use a jig slightly smaller than a coho twitching jig. ¼ to 3/8 oz jig heads. Again, PINK colors but you can also mix and add other colors or all white.
  • Target fish in slow, deep water. The hole doesn’t necessarily need to be super deep, but at least 4 feet and the larger the hole, the more time you have to present the lure without recasting.
  • Great for undercuts where fish like to hide. Cast right next to the bank and you will often get to watch the fish run out and bite your jig.
  • Cast against the bank/log/structure at the back of the hole and let the jig drop for a few seconds. Twitch the jig up about 8-12 inches using only your wrist. While the jig is dropping, reel in a couple cranks and give the jig another twitch
  • The fish will always bite on the fall so when you go to twitch back up, your essentially setting the hook, hence why you almost never miss a bite.

Here’s a picture that I took of a small twitching jig on the fall. Despite all the feathers and body when it’s dry, it snakes down quite a bit when wet and a little shine goes a LONG way!

 Hopefully these small tips will add a little more pink into your life and as always, email me if you ever have any questions or want some more tips!!