Think Pink! 6.8 Million Reasons to Love the PNW
August 20, 2015
This summer?s Strait of Juan de Fuca salmon fisheries expects over 15 million pink salmon headed to the Frazier river and Puget Sound. The 6.8 million pink salmon forecast for Puget Sound provides excellent late summer opportunities for beach fly fishers and boat anglers. Yes, that's right. 6.8 MILLION PINKS COMING BACK TO PUGET SOUND! Two river systems with large pink salmon forecasts--the Snohomish river expects 1.6 million pinks and the Nisqually river system expects near 1 million pinks. Are you kidding me? Even if you only caught like a dozen of those that would be pretty sweet.
How Do I Go About Catching Pinks?
In southern Puget Sound the last week of August and early September are best. Pink salmon migrate close to shore from the west side of Whidbey Island to Brown?s Point. Fly fishing anglers are catching pinks prized for their delicate flavor, and the average weight is about 5 lbs. That's perfect if you plan on catching a lot of them. The current Washington freshwater record is 15.4 pounds and it will be interesting to see if that gets broken this year. With this many fish inbound I would say the odds are pretty good.
Anglers are encouraged to keep their catch, there is certainly a harvestable surplus with this many fish inbound.
No don't panic, because you don?t need expensive gear to go beach fishing for pinks. If you have a sturdy 6-7 weight that is perfect, and even 8 weights aren't overkill. I like the SAGE ACCEL 691-4 fly rod with a Sage 3280 reel and a RIO Coldwater Outbound WF6/I fly line. Its easy for me to cast. A lot of casters however will get a lot more range on the beach with a 9'6" rod. A 696-4 or a 796-4 will offer good range while standing in the water especially when the bank behind you has a slope to it. Its easy to snap flies off on the rocks and beach while fishing for pinks.
If you want the absolute best rod available for tight loops and long casts, get the Sage SALT. The 7 weight would double as a tremendous Bonefish Rod. Its only 9' so keep your backcast high to keep the line off the rocks.
I can give you river fisherman some good advice. If you are beach fishing COVERAGE IS KING. Seriously. You can't drift it to them. The more water you cover the more fish you catch. Why do you think people troll? COVERAGE. Get a good fly rod and line that will throw big and cover enough water to track down cruising fish.
I personally like us a Linekurv stripping basket. In the Lefty Kreh book, Saltwater Fly Fishing, Lefty states that its a shame more anglers don't use stripping baskets. Yea, they look silly but not as silly as untangling your line off your boots, the rocks, and failing to get a good shot because you are standing on your line! I will be the guy with the stripping basket with a smile and a fish on while you are trying to get the line untangled off of your boots.
You will need waders because Puget Sound saltwater is chilly. No water temperature issues for this fishery, so NO HOOT OWL RESTRICTIONS... YEA BABY!
Here are 4 hot salmon flies for beach fishing: Clouser Minnow, Pink/White, Size 2; Hot Shot Comet, Pink, Size 2; and a Starlite Leech, Pink, Size 2.
Umpqua's Hare Leech - Steelhead and Salmon Fly - Size 1
Got My Flies!... Now What?
First of all, its ok to scout, fish hard, and get skunked. Please don't be afraid to get geared up and give this a shot. The best beach anglers have put in some hours. Here are some great leads though and with that many fish out there I'll bet most of you find success. You will most definitely have some great scenery!
Productive Puget Sound beaches include Seattle?s Lincoln Park (8011 Fauntleroy Way SW); Carkeek Park (950 NW Carkeek Park Road); Golden Gardens (8498 Seaview Place NW)?best spot is north of the breakwater; Alki Beach Park (1702 Alki Ave. SW) on the Harbor Island end of the beach. Further south?Browns Point Light house Park in Tacoma (201 Tulalip St. NE)?fish the beach with the incoming tide after low water. And north of Seattle, Picnic Point in Edmonds (7531 Picinic Point Road)
Laughing anglers with bent rods immediately record and clean your catch for the BBQ. Your iced pink salmon is prime smoked or barbecued. Just make sure to bring the Red's staff some smoked Salmon!