Pink Salmon in British Columbia
In each odd-numbered year, southwestern B.C. is
inundated with pink salmon intent on entering fresh
water and dispersing their seed throughout the vast
Fraser River system. Pink Salmon take the fly
surprisingly well in fresh water, probably due
to the imprinting which takes place during their
Pinks are not difficult to find in fresh water as
they generally prefer very shallow, glassy runs with
moderate current speeds. They also crowd into tight
schools, resembling dark pulsating bands which may
be detected even in the murky waters of the Fraser.
By the first of August, the inaugural run of pinks is
in the Fraser. Those that are mainsteam spawners remain,
while others continue up into streams such as the Harrison
and Vedder. The run continues until about September
30, after which the fish are no longer fresh. Pinks
deteriorate quickly on entering fresh water, so for
hard-running, bright fish concentrate on the early
runs and choose locations as close to salt water as
possible. The fish are also quicker to respond to a
fly during these early days.
Six- to seven-weight fly rods are adequate for pinks,
but large, humpbacked males will be difficult to turn
in the current, so going too light is not recommended.
Longer rods are useful for the frequent mending required
to manipulate the fly into position. Floating lines
or slow sinkers are standard on the Fraser. Combined
with lightly weighted fly patterns, such set-ups
provide the most hassle-free angling.
There are two basic techniques. The most common calls
for a drag-free, shallow-water drift, with or without
a strike indicator, where the fly is allowed to bump
seductively along. As when fishing nymphs, the
slightest hesitation during a drift should be met
with a hookset. Black rabbit strip tied onto a
short-shank hook and fronted with a ball of cerise
chenille is deadly with this technique.
Less well known, but gaining steadily in popularity,
is the dry fly technique for pinks. The traditional
drag-free dry drift has proven only marginally
successful, but a downstream skated or waking fly
will draw fish in shallow water (less than three feet)
to the surface.
The fly of choice is the Pollywog. This fly gained
notoriety for taking coho salmon on estuaries and
rivers in Alaska. The pattern is designed to float
and skate across the surface, creating a disturbance
which may trigger a response. The take is very subtle,
visible only as a slight bulge in the meniscus. Wait
until the weight of the fish is perceived on the line
before lifting the rod. Then hang on and tell yourself
how good life is.
Credits: Article from Fly Fishing British Columbia Edited by Karl
Bruhn; Photo from Alaska Fly Fishers (www.alaskaflyfishers.com).
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