The Official Pink Salmon Fishing Checklist 
Pink Salmon are an excellent sport fish for anglers of all ages and skill levels. They run in odd numbered years on the South Coast and can be caught off local beaches and in rivers. Pink Salmon are by far the most plentiful of the 5 Pacific Salmon species and are exceptionally easy fish to target with a variety of methods. In this blog post we will cover practically everything you need to know in order to get out on the water and take advantage of this fun fishery.
With the amount of opportunity in this fishery, timing is not generally as critical as other fisheries. With that being said, Pink Salmon only return to our Lower Mainland river’s every odd numbered year (once every two years), so it is definitely worthwhile to take full advantage of these fish while you can.
Depending on the area, Pink Salmon can show up as early as June in some places, but the bulk of the numbers will begin to show up towards the third week of July, and will continue right through until the end of September. Some rivers will see earlier returns of Pink Salmon, and some will see later returns of Pink Salmon.
- July - Fair
- August – Peak
- September – Peak
Where to Go
While we have millions of Pink Salmon returning to our South Coast every two years, timing can be very critical as fish show up in different river systems at different times. For example, and as a general rule of thumb, Pink Salmon returning to the Northwest Side of the Lower Mainland (Howe Sound / Squamish Area) will return earlier than those that are returning to the Eastern Side of the Lower Mainland (Fraser Valley Area).
- Cates Park (Mid-Late July)
- Mouth of Indian River (Late July)
- Mouth of Capilano River (Late July)
- Furry Creek (Mid-Late July)
- Squamish River (Late July)
- Cates Park (Month long)
- Mouth of Indian River (Month long)
- Mouth of Capilano River (Month long)
- Furry Creek (Early-Mid August)
- Squamish River (Month long)
- Fraser River (Late August)
- Vedder/Chilliwack River (Late August)
- Fraser River (Month long)
- Vedder/Chilliwack River (Month long)
- Harrison River (Month long)
- Stave River (Month long)
Best Angling Techniques for Catching Pink Salmon
One of the most sought after methods to catch Pink Salmon, lure fishing is easy and fun enough to keep the young or beginner anglers keen on the sport. Like a lot of the other methods, this technique.
Rods – For ultimate performance and effectiveness, rods should be between the 6’6
to 9’0” range, and should have a fast action. This means that the tip will have to have quite a bit of sensitivity, along with enough back bone throughout most of the rod to fish a spinner or spoon correctly. It is imperative to feel your lure throughout its time in the water in order to detect the bite.
Line – Monofilament and braided line are the two main choices when it comes to lure fishing. There is not necessarily a right or wrong when it comes to line as some lures may fish better with or without braided or monofilament line. For light lures or long casts, we suggest using a braided line due to its thin diameter, which allows for easy casting. For long distance casts, braided line will also allow you to detect bites quicker, and give you a better hookset as it does not stretch like monofilament. Maxima Ultragreen and Berkley Trilene in 8-12lb test will be adequate.
Spoons – R&B Spoons, Gibbs Ultra Lure, Gibbs Mega Watt, Gibbs Croc, Buzz Bombs, Zzingers
Spinners – Blue Fox Vibrax, Trophy Tackle, LAR Lure, Roostertail, Mepps
Twitch, twitch, BOOM. This is a very effective technique in both Tidal and Non-Tidal bodies of water. Fishing jigs will require some specific tackle and equipment, so please review the tackle section below to get set up properly. Jigs can vary from rubber curly-tails to combinations of feathers and fur.
Rods – For ultimate performance and effectiveness, rods should be between the 6’6
to 9’0” range, and should have a fast action. This means that the tip will have to have quite a bit of sensitivity, along with enough back bone throughout most of the rod to fish a jig correctly. It is imperative to feel your jig throughout its time in the water in order to detect the dropping and lifting action, as well as the bite.
Line – Without a doubt one of the most important components of a successful jig setup, your line should more often than not be a braided line. Braided will give you several advantages. For the most part, braided line will give you a direct connection to your jig, and will allow you to detect bites. A 8-12lb test braided line will be suitable.
Jigs – Jigs can be fished a variety of ways, whether they are fished under a float or fished by twitching, but in this article we will be focusing on twitching jigs. Twitching jigs have a variety of styles; Curly tail grub jigs, or feathery jigs.
Considered to be one of the most exciting methods to target these guys, fly fishing can also be one of the most effective techniques in all bodies of water for these fish. Fly Fishing for Salmon in general is quite often a fun experience, and it is relatively easy to get anglers into this style of fishing that have not used this particular method before.
Rods – There is quite a range of acceptable weights and lengths for a suitable Pink Salmon fly fishing rods. On average, a 9’0” to 10’0” rod in the 7-8 weight range is ideal for most tidal and non-tidal scenarios. For some slower bodies of water, a 6 weight can get the job done, although it is often best to not stress fish out by playing them for an unnecessary length of time.
- St Croix Imperial 9′-10′ 6wt to 8wt
- G.Loomis PRO4x 9′ #6wt or 10′ 7wt to 8wt
- Sage Approach 9′ 6wt to 8wt
Disc Drag Large Arbour Fly Reels - A good quality disc drag fly reel is a huge asset when fishing for salmon. You will want to make sure that your reel is saltwater safe and corrosion resistant.
- Sage 1850 or 1880
- Hardy Ultralite DD
- Galvan Torque 6 or 8
Line – Floating lines, intermediate clear lines, and sink tips are often all you will need. Whether Pink’s are schooling off of the beaches or swimming in the river, they will more often than not be swimming shallow. Pink Salmon are notorious shallow water swimmers, in turn meaning you can get away with keeping your presentation near the surface. It can often be a negative approach to be fishing too deep.
Tapered Leaders & Leader Material – We like tapered leaders for the simple fact that they are extremely convenient. High quality fluorocarbon will do the trick if you break-off or just want to add some length to your leader.
- Rio Salmon Steelhead Tapered Leaders 6′ or 9′ 10#
- Seaguar Blue Label 10# Fluorocarbon Leader Material
*Tidal Lines: Full Floating, Clear Intermediate
*Non-Tidal Lines: Full Floating, Clear Intermediate, Sink-Tips (Type 3-Type 6)
Flies – It is honestly tough to go wrong with fly selection (within reason) as there are truly so many different patterns one can use or have in their arsenal. The main key components to picking the correct flies will all have to do with the following factors: Water body, water height, and clarity of the water. Flies used in the saltwater will often be quite small and sparse, while flies used in the freshwater can be small and sparse, but also bigger and brighter.
Pink salmon are a great target for fly fishers because of their willingness to bite a fly. Here are 5 of our all-around favourite patterns. These top 5 flies and the materials to tie them are available for purchase at the shop all summer long.
1. Pink & White Clouser Minnows – #6, #4, #2
2. Pink Comet – #8, #6, #4
3. Pink Handle Bar – #8, #6, #4
4. Pink Terror – #10, #8
5. Pink Beach Comber – #8
Fly Fishing Vests & Chest Packs – A fly fishing vest or chest pack will help you keep everything in one place. Hopefully.
- Simms Headwaters Mesh Vest
- Simms Guide Vest
- Sage DXL Typhoon Chest Pack
- Simms Dry Creek Chest Pack
Fly Line Basket – The fly line basket is one your best friends while beach fishing. The purpose of the line basket is to keep your fly line tangle free and safely contained until you are ready to make your next cast. Once you use one you’ll never want to fish without one again!
- Sea-Run Custom Fly Line Basket
- William Joseph Stripping Basket
This is a method that can be used in a smaller number of scenarios. This technique will work particularly well in places such as the Chilliwack River, the Harrison River, and other rivers of a smaller nature. If you enjoy watching your float take a dive from a strike, this is the fishery for you.
Rods – There’s nothing too different about your setup for float fishing comparative to your standard salmon float fishing setup, other than the downsizing of some of your gear, and your actual lure or presentation under your setup.
Line – Standard monofilament is all you need for this type of method. You can vary your mainline between 12-15lb test so you don’t lose you rig and setup
Presentations – The world is your oyster with what you decide to fish under your float. As per a few suggestions, we often recommend fishing a pink jig in most scenarios. Jigs give you a well presented approach to the fish, and provide a pulsating action which makes Pink Salmon go crazy. Yarn, Colorado Blades, Eggs, and even flies will all produce fish under a float in the right scenarios and conditions.
*It is imperative to obtain the correct licensing for your angling area. These fish can be targeted in Tidal and Non-Tidal bodies of water.* Licenses can be purchased online or at the shop.
We know it’s summer but standing up to your waist in cold water early in the morning isn’t always the most comfortable thing to do. That is why they made waders! Breathable waders are a must have.
- Simms Blackfoot Waders
- Simms Headwater Gortex Waders
- Simms G3 Guide Gortex Waders
Wading boots are another essential component to your angling wardrobe. A pair of well constructed boots fitted with either felt or Vibram soles will help keep you standing upright.
- Simms Freestone Boots
- Simms Rivershed
- Simms Guide
Under Wader Clothing
It’s important to have a good set of clothes for under your waders. Here are a few suggestions.
- Simms Liner Socks
- Simms Super light zip off pants
- Simms Ebb Tide Shirt
You will find that these are some of the most important pieces in your fishing ensemble.
- Tie-Fast Nail Knot Tyer
- William Joseph Non-Slip Nippers
- Simms Retractor
- Dr. Slick Barb Pliers
- Dr. Slick Standard Clamp Hemostats
- Dr. Slick Hook File
- Fenix HL21 Waterproof Headlamp
- Morell Foam Fly Box
- Flies Small pink, orange, chartreuse and blue in multiples. Don’t forget to include our favourite Pink Salmon fly “The Pink Ping Pong” .
- Tide Book
- Simms sunscreen
The summer days are long and hot. It is critical that you protect your head from the intense heat of the summer sun. Here are some of hats that will get the job done in style.
- Simms Micro Fibre Cap Short Bill or Long Bill
- Simms Sun Shield Hat
- Simms Trucker Hat
Polarized Protective Eye Wear
It’s a well known fact that sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays as well as out of control flies. They can also help cut down the glare off of the water, making it easier to spot surfacing fish.
Here are a few very reputable brands we wear…
- Leech Eye Wear
- Maui Jim
A few additional considerations… Some of these beaches can get a little crowded during peak season so angler etiquette is a must. Be courteous and try to leave some space between you and your neighbor. If you see someone that needs help then try and give them a hand. Don’t leave the beach a disgusting mess – pack out what you packed in. Lastly, make sure you have your fishing license on you and that you are aware of the current regulations, including closures and restrictions. If you need a fishing license you can get one online or one down at the shop #110-1140 Austin Avenue Coquitlam BC.
For up to date fishing information please give us a call at 604-931-5044
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