Early predictions of poor runs of Pink salmon in Puget Sound rivers this fall appeared to leave little chance for a local fishing season.
But with some runs a bit better than expected, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering two local opportunities for anglers to fish for pinks, the smallest of the Pacific salmon.
The first is an ongoing saltwater fishery in the area called Humpy Hollow, a location south of Mukilteo and north of Edmonds. The second and just announced opportunity is a special fishery on the Snohomish River from Sunday, Sept. 1 through Sept. 3.
The three-day opening in the Snohomish starts at the river’s mouth and continues through the various sloughs to the confluence of the Snoqualmie and Skykomish rivers. Licensed anglers will only be able to keep only one pink each day.
Pinks caught on the Snoqualmie and Skykomish must be released, although anglers there may keep one coho daily.
State and tribal officials had closed the river to fishing for pinks, but the state noted in a news release that “Early information indicates that the return of pinks to the Snohomish River is large enough to support a small recreational fishery in the river.”
Now is the day salmon begin to pour into the river, so the three-day season is perfect timing.
In addition to the Snoqualmie and Skykomish, pink fishing remains closed in the Stillaguamish and Skagit rivers.
Pinks, which typically weigh 4 to 6 pounds, have just started their runs up the river. They typically spawn in rivers on odd-numbered years, and this year is a “Humpy Year”.
In rivers, Humpies can be very aggressive if they’ve just come from the salt water. They will take a variety of lures, including lead-headed jigs made with hot pink marabou, Dick Knight or similar spoons, Buzz Bombs, and a variety of plugs.
Fly fishers have success on a variety of patterns, but baitfish flies or something made with hot pink materials is usually a good bet.
The Snohomish River doesn’t have a lot of areas that are good for fly fishing, but you can usually have luck with a boat by exploring the sloughs as the tide is rising. Pinks will often enter the sloughs in groups, and you will see them rolling and splashing as groups of the salmon head upriver.
Fishing for pinks has also been good most days as the salmon start to stage in Humpy Hollow, the saltwater area south of Mukilteo to the shipwreck north of Edmonds.
Anglers, who may keep two pinks daily, have been fishing using down riggers that put their lures down around 45 to 60 feet. Try different depths until you find the fish.
If you don’t have down riggers, go early or late in the day when the fish will be higher in the water column and troll your rig slowly behind a 6-ounce crescent sinker.
The morning bite is often the best, and you can usually find fish by watching the surface and looking for areas where fish are jumping or splashing about.
The most popular rig is a pink squid fished about 20 inches behind a white dodger. If you hit a fish, continue to work that area carefully because you are likely around a group of Humpies.