A DAILY LIMIT catch of four prime pinks taken on a fly rod.

Pink salmon – small but special

Local waters enjoying big runs of these feisty little fighters

We are currently in the middle of a large run of pink salmon in many of the systems in the Strait of Georgia. Pictured with this column is a daily limit catch of four prime pinks taken on a fly rod. They are the norm for those anglers fishing our river systems.

Pinks are feisty fighters that give a good account of themselves on light tackle. Pinks are among the first salmon to hit our beaches before going up their natal streams. Savvy beach anglers start patrolling the beaches early in the morning on a receding tide for tell-tale signs of schools of migrating pinks swimming in the shallows.

In calm waters you look for the bow wave ahead of a moving school of fish, or locate them by observing jumpers along the beach. They create a dream situation for casters of all types, especially fly fishers who cast their fly just ahead of the moving school of fish and wait for the pulse of a take – it is the stuff of legends.

In a year of low water, schooling pinks off their natal streams are easy targets for wading anglers and harbour seals. With the current low water situation the fish may be forced to stay off the mouths of home streams until seasonal rains bring life-saving waters, creating passages for the waiting salmon to enter their natal rivers to complete their spawning run.

Pink salmon are not large by salmon standards, they average three to four pounds with occasional individuals weighing in at eight or nine pounds.

In many respects they are the perfect one-meal fish for a family. They smoke well and are excellent fish for canning. Properly handled they are nice fish for freezing in small family packages, depending on the size of your family.

In the Comox Valley there are many seniors who use small portions when freezing fish for obvious reasons and these small tasty salmon make excellent freezer packages. Their pale pink flesh just plain has an excellent flavour making them popular choices for barbecuing, baking, frying or any other way you choose to utilize this bonanza of pink salmon. They also make excellent fish for canning in small salmon jars.

For anglers who troll pinks, they are normally in the upper portion of the water column at about 50 feet, plus or minus. The pink flies used in fishing sockeye will work well fished about 25 to 30 inches behind red or green flashers. Small pink hoochies, lures, streamers, bucktails are successful choices when staring to fish these tasty fish. It is a strange connection when, lures and flies that work well on pink salmon are by and large pink in colour.

Young people who have limited resources to spend on fishing rods and tackle find pinks to be easy to catch along the beaches and in our rivers with modest equipment. A pair of old running shoes for the beach, some shorts and sunscreen and you are ready to go fishing. No boat or expensive wading gear is needed for these summer salmon.

During the 2013 season the Campbell River system had an  unusually large run of pink salmon. The 2014 run of pinks is significantly larger than the run of last year. The run is so large that they have opened the upper section of the river above the Quinsam River to retention of four pinks in the fly-fishing waters that are normally a catch and release fishery.

There are tens of thousands of pink salmon throughout the system. I saw a photograph of the pool at the diversion dam and it was so full of fish you could almost walk across the water on the backs of fish.

I spoke to a happy camper who had got up early in the morning, drove up to the Campbell and caught his four salmon before his family was up. As we spoke he was getting them ready for his camp smoker as a special BC Day treat.

For campers in the Oyster River and Black Creek area the mouth of the Oyster is producing good catches from the beach. Beaches at Cape Lazo and the approaches to the Puntledge including Royston are good places to take schooling pinks. The hot dry weather will keep them near the beaches. Let’s enjoy the bounty from our local Ocean waters.


Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.



Just Posted

School for students on Hornby Island ‘normal as can be’: portables expected in new year

While it’s not an ideal situation, the return to school for students… Continue reading

Christmas comes early for residents of Cumberland Lodge

It’s Christmas in September at Cumberland Lodge. The Rotary Club of Cumberland… Continue reading

Big Beach Cleanup builds awareness of ocean debris impacts

First two cleanup days brought in 40 cubic yards of plastic and styrofoam

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Horvat leads Canucks to 4-3 shootout victory over Kings

Vancouver dumps L.A. in NHL pre-season contest

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Most Read