Written by Jason Swingen, Updated

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.

Shore caught 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.

Pink Salmon

Pink Salmon

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.

Pink Salmon