Catching Fraser River Pink Salmon 101
Millions of Pink Salmon return to the Fraser River every odd year in September! This is how to get’em.
Read our 2019 Best Times for Fishing article
Catching Pink Salmon from shore on the Fraser River, British Columbia, Canada is relatively easy by sport fishing standards. All you need is the right tackle, the right location and of course the right timing. But if you really want to make a good haul without spending countless hours and money then just book one of our Guided Salmon Fishing charters with a expert guide! Then you will be having fresh Pink Salmon for dinner or the smoker.
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Pink Salmon return to the Fraser River by the millions every odd numbered year from late August to very early October. This provides the most popular and productive Fraser River fishing experience!
Pink Salmon Tackle
Pink Salmon are not big so the rule is go light. You never want to go overboard with tackle. This gives you the most fun and success when Pink Salmon fishing. Pinks average 3-6 pounds so using tackle designed on the lighter end will give you more enjoyment and success.
Pink Salmon Rods
We recommend getting a 7-8 foot rod rated for line weights of approximately 8-15 lbs. These rods are quite flexible and can easily handle the scrappy battle of a light salmon. Don’t go hockey stick stiff with your Pink rod. We see people out there with rods that could easily handle a 100 lb fish. There is no sport in this and those rods equal low success rates and often ridicule. They are not designed for smaller fish. They will cause your line to break easily and they just don’t have the sensitivity to detect bites.
Common brand name rods to choose from are Ugly Stik, Shimano, Daiwa, Rapala.
Pink Salmon Reels
You will need to match the reel to your rod. This is critical for proper action and ease of use. Just like rods are designed for specific applications, so are reels. Reels come in different size categories just like trucks do. Common reel numbers are either in the 10’s, hundreds or thousands. For example a Daiwa 3000 will be the same size class as another manufacturer who will use ’30’.
You don’t want a giant “coffee grinder”. The ideal reel for Pinks is the 30 series(aka 3000). You can get away with a 40 or 4000 but don’t go beyond that.
Spool your reel with either mono or braided line. Braid is great. It’s tough and Pinks just don’t care if it’s visible. They are not that smart. We recommend using Power Pro 30 lb braid in moss green colour. If you must use Mono then go with 15 lb Maxima or Trilene.
Pink Salmon lures
The key word here is ‘Pink’. Pink salmon love pink lures. Your local tackle store should have a very good supply of Pink salmon lures months in advance of the Pink’s arrival.
Spoons, spinners and jigs are all highly effective. We’ll cover Pink Salmon fly fishing in another article.
Where to go fishing for Pinks on the Fraser River
If you want to have easy success hire a Pink Salmon guide or charter. Otherwise follow these guidelines:
Pink salmon travel in very large schools so if you find the travel lanes with the right structure you can do very well. Look for shorelines where there is a very gradual dropoff which are commonly called ‘bars’. A good bar on the lower Fraser river will be sandy and not very deep. Quite often you can walk out a ways and only be waist deep. This is where you want to be. Move back and cast straight out. You should be hooking your Pinks in 3-8 feet deep of water. Pinks are often close and in shallow water.
Use extreme caution when walking in the Fraser river because depths and sudden dropoffs are almost impossible to detect which can often lead to extreme danger and a loss of life. Current speed should always be slow. Never wade into the Fraser if the shore line is large rock dyke material or washed away bank. These zones are sudden dropoffs.
How to fish your Pink lures
Once you find your proper location stop and look for rising fish. Pinks will always show themselves with a gentle porpoising as they head upstream.
If you are fishing with spoons or spinners cast straight out or slightly downstream. Let your lure sink to near the bottom and start a slow retrieve that will keep your lure wobbling or thumping but without dragging the bottom or coming too close to the surface. This is the fine art of presentation. Bites will be rather obvious. Once you get a bite quickly set the hook and you’re into a fish! When landing a fish always bring it into 6-12 inches of water where you can evaluate if it’s a keeper. If it’s not a keeper just remove the hook and let the fish go with care. A fish dragged onto the beach is basically a dead fish. Mishandling of fish is an offence under the wildlife act and will often lead to other anglers confronting you.
Fishing jigs properly can be done quite effectively under a float. Run your jig about 4-6 feet under the float. Cast out and wait 2-3 seconds. Twitch the float about 1-2 feet towards you and reel up the slack. Pause for a second and repeat. Hits or bites will be hard in most cases. Pink Salmon love a twitched jig!
Watch the anglers who catch fish ethically and legally. If they are bringing in fish hooked in the mouth with spoons or jigs then they are the guys to learn from.
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