If you would like to learn how to catch these fish, you should read my updated article on How to Catch Pink Salmon on the North Shore.
The very first time I heard about pink salmon was last October during the first Gitche Gumee Trout Unlimited meeting of the year. (More specifically what I heard about pink salmon is that they had just finished running and that the north shore rivers were full of them! Notice I said “were”. After a year of feeling an opportunity had been missed I was determined to catch this new bucket list fish.
Without ever even seeing a pink salmon before and not much information to go on other than on the north shore of Lake Superior and in September. I took an entire weekend to drive up shore from Duluth towards Grand Marias in search of a hooking my first pink.
My trip started with a very early morning drive up the shore. Early enough to get a few casts from shore into lake superior in search of lake trout and rainbow trout. I spent a beautiful morning casting lil’ Cleos into the water while the sun rose behind the clouds and was able to catch a nice kamloop rainbow trout.
After loosing a couple spoons and breaking my brand new Gander Mtn Steelhead rod I was forced to change tactics and species.
I grabbed my 5wt and loaded my pack with nymphs, egg patterns, san juan worms, and streamers and started hiking looking for new water. I fished a few spots on my way and hooked a few small rainbows and medium sized brook trout, but still no pinks.
Then, after a few hours of picking pool after pool apart I walked up to a pool and there they were. Dozens of them.
I spent an hour changing flies trying to get a fish to bite. I eventually hooked into my first pink using a small size 16 copper john style nymph. For there size pink salmon put up a great fight often jumping out of the water like mini steelhead. I spent a little while longer and hooked into a few more, but eventually after sneaking closer and closer I decided to try and get them on video. I left my rod on shore and waded out with my action camera and caught some fantastic footage.
I fished a handful of rivers and ended up finding and catching pinks in each of them. One of my best patterns for pinks ended up being a wooly bugger streamer. I tied my own in pink/black, pink/white, and black/red that all caught fish.
Late September Update
After a week of rain and taking a break from my the water to sit in my tree stand, I made my way back to the river. It took a little while to find the fish, but once I found them I was catching them one after another. The hens were dropping eggs like crazy so after catching my first fish on a streamer I changed to a small orange egg pattern that matched the eggs.