If you’re interested in targeting river run pacific salmon on the fly then you better get to know the humpy!
Pink salmon (AKA humpys) run in a two-year cycle. They are one of the last salmon to enter the Fraser River and its tributaries commonly beginning around mid August to the end of September. Unlike Sockeye salmon, Pinks will feed and strike at lures during their freshwater trek to spawn and therefore allow for the use of several different fishing techniques. Their sheer numbers during this time of year make them the perfect candidates for fly fishers!
Fly fishing for Pink salmon is simple and straight forward but does require some specialized equipment … here’s a list of the gear that is needed:
Rods: Any standard fly rod from weight 6 to weight 8 in the 9 – 10 foot range will suffice. We have been using the Dragonfly “Kamloops” 9 foot in weight 8 but it’s all about personal preference and cost so try a few out and then buy the one that feels best for you within the price range that you can afford.
Reels: Any single action fly reel with a decent drag and big enough to hold a sufficient amount of backing with your fly line will do. We have been using the Dragonfly DX 7/8 Large Arbor but again it’s all about personal preference so try a few out and then buy the one that feels best for you within the price range that you’re willing to spend.
Fly Line: Choose your fly line to match the weight of your fly rod or one weight higher. Depending on the depth of water that you are fishing you may need a range of lines from full floater to fast sinking. To cover all the bases, and save money, we opted for Scientific Anglers Quad tip system. This package comes with a full floating main section and four different tips: floating, intermediate, slow sink and fast sink. There are other brands out there so shop around and find one that works for you.
Leader: A tapered mono filament leader terminating at 10ish lbs will help you turn over your fly. In a pinch, a straight section of mono from 10 – 20 lbs will suffice.
The Fly: Anything pink (or with pink in it) and big enough to cast a nice silhouette in the water. The less the visibility, the larger and flashier the fly. Here’s a couple that we have had good success with!
OK so that’s the gear … next step locate some pinks and get fishing! Relax, this is easier that you might think as this time of year the Fraser river is thick with pink salmon AND they typical run in slow water close to shore so if they’re around you should be able to see them. If you’re having trouble spotting the fish then just look for the fishermen cause where they are the fish are!
Once located, you simply want to cast out and slightly upstream and then quickly mend your line to form a downstream bow. Let it all drift downstream until the bow has straightened out and your fly line is parallel with the shore line. If you haven’t hit a fish by then strip everything back in and repeat the process.
The strikes can vary from subtle to fierce and typically take place between one and two o’clock in your sweep … but be prepared as occasionally they will hit the fly as soon as it hits the water . If there are pinks in the area it shouldn’t take you long to latch into one. If you don’t have any success within 30 minutes or so and can see pinks rolling then try adjusting your depth. If you have no luck and can’t see any Pinks moving then it’s probably time to relocate and try a different area.
Here’s a short video of the whole thing:
Well that’s it folks! Gear up, check the fishery numbers and head out and give it a try! The worst that can happen is you get to spend some quality relaxation time taking in the gorgeous scenery of the Fraser River and its surrounding areas! And, if your lucky, you might be rewarded with a few plump pinky’s for your efforts!
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