Pink Salmon are the most numerous salmon species in the North Pacific Ocean. They offer robust commercial fisheries. However, they are also an easy catch for anglers in saltwater areas, rivers and streams. Male Pink Salmon grow a comically large hump on their back prior to spawning, giving the species its famous nickname: the Humpy Salmon.
Pink Salmon Basics
Pink Salmon have a very strict two year life cycle. Meaning that they spawn in mass every other year. In the northern reaches of their range, Alaskan rivers host both even and odd numbered-year runs. Further south, Washington State Pinks return in large numbers in odd numbered years. However, there is a small number of Pinks that spawn in even numbered years in certain Washington Rivers.
How to Identify Pink Salmon
In their ocean form, Pink Salmon have large black spots on their back as well as both the upper and lower lobes of their tail. They have a white mouth with black gum and tongue. Relative to other salmon species, they have very small scales. Once they enter the river and are near spawning, their silver coloration turns to a pale olive side and dull white belly. Male Pink Salmon grow an extremely large hump on their back, which gives the species its nickname: Humpy Salmon.
Where to Find Pink Salmon
Pink Salmon can be found feeding and staging in bays, inlets and sounds near rivers during summer months before they complete their spawning migration. Large schools concentrate in the upper 100′ of the water column. They are found in great numbers in the river’s tidal reaches, lower and middle sections where they spawn. Pink Salmon can spawn just above the reach of tide. Although they tend to prefer the lower reaches, the rivers with the biggest returns will host spawning Pinks further upriver into the tributaries as well.
Pink Salmon Fishing
Pink Salmon are one of the easiest salmon species to catch. Saltwater anglers catch them by trolling from boats or casting from shore. River fishermen often have good fishing, as these fish willingly bite any pink colored lure and show up by the thousands.