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Pink Salmon Fishing in BC

Every odd year, so 2017, 2019, 2021, there is a run of Pink Salmon that return to the south coast of British Columbia. Many of these fish find their way home to the Squamish River and it’s tributaries including the Cheakamus River. The Squamish River is about an hour north of Vancouver, this is where we offer year-round guided fly fishing trips. Here are some guide tips on fishing for Pink Salmon in Squamish and info our our guided Pink Salmon fishing trips.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME FOR PINK SALMON FISHING IN BC?

Generally from mid July to early September is the best time for Pink salmon fishing on the rivers of British Columbia’s south coast. This is when the majority of the pink salmon are entering BC rivers including the Vedder, Squamish and Indian, among others.

Before mid July, most rivers, including the Squamish River, are high and tough to fish. After late August Pink Salmon are in their spawning period and should be left alone to do their thing.

Is there a time of day that is better than others for fishing pink salmon? I haven’t really noticed over the years, I would suggest fishing about an hour or two after high tide. High tides tend to push fresh pinks into the river, especially closer to the estuary.

If you’d like to book a guided Pink Salmon fishing trip keep in mind July, August and September are super busy for us, so a good thing to inquire early. For more info, visit our Guided Vancouver Fly Fishing Trips page or email us chromersportfishing@gmail.com for availability and pricing.


 

PINK SALMON FISHING TIPS

Prime time Pink Salmon fishing in BC is a ton of fun. A unique fishery with generally lots of bites and action, perfect for any level of angler.

Fishing for pinks requires patience and a bit of general river knowledge. I usually break down river salmon fishing into three categories: There are traveling fish, those that are moving quickly upriver, which are hard to entice to bite. There are staging fish, which are the easiest to target. There are also spawning pink salmon that we want to leave alone.

To be most successful you’ll want to focus on fishing for staging fish, in spots that they’re hold up. These spots are usually medium water flow, have some nice bottom structure and are 3-6 feet in depth. Pink Salmon don’t like  staging in fast water, it’s too much work. Too slow and they won’t like it either, they like having some flow to swim against.

Being patient is key, pink salmon usually come in waves throughout the day. There are times where there are no fish present in the river, you’ll look around and not see any salmon rolling or jumping. Then a wave of fish will push upstream, you’ll see Pink Salmon rolling as they swim. This will be your best chance at catch some fish, so be patient and wait for the fish to come to you, this is the best fishing strategy for pink salmon.

If you’re fly casting, you’ll want to cast 30-40 feet of line, and instantly mend your line once it hits the water. Mending will slow down the swing of the fly and give it a more natural presentation in the water. Most of the time the fish will bite as the fly is swinging about 45 degrees downstream from you.

Pink salmon bites are usually pretty hard, but they have soft mouths so you need to get in a good hook set and let the fish run. Keeping pressure on the fish is key, without it they can easily spit your barbless fly. Remember safe and proper fish handling techniques, we want to show these fish the ultimate in respect. If you’re lucky enough to land one, please don’t drag them up not the sand or rocks and keep them in the water, lifting them only for a second or two for a quick photo.


PINK SALMON TACKLE TIPS

Pink Salmon like eating pink flies and pink lures. How easy is that to remember!

Don’t overthinking your Pink Salmon fishing game, smaller flies and lures work best. More sparsely tied flies, on a smaller hook, with a tiny bit of flash, are what Pink Salmon are most inclined to hit. If you’re tying or buying your own flies, make sure you buy something with a heavier gauge hook, trout hooks will wear out on a day of pink salmon, the lighter gauge wire used for trout hooks has a hard time standing up to the continuous strain this hard fight fish put to them.

Best fly fishing rod for Pink Salmon fishing is a 6-8 weight, 9 feet or longer. I like a slightly heavier rod, gives you the ability to cast in what is sometimes windier conditions and also gives some more backbone when fighting a fish. You want to enjoy the fishing aspect, but using really light rods (5 weights and under) or light lines, causes a longer fight and more stress on the fish. A lot of what we do is teach Spey casting, also known as two-handed casting, this is a really cool component of our guided trip, if people are interested in learning. Spey casting is an easy way to cast longer distances with ease and most of our clients love that we focus on getting people into this cool segment of fly fishing.

Fly lines for fishing Pink Salmon are usually floating with a sink tip system at the end. Type 3 or type 8 sink tips, 10 foot sections is what I like to use when swinging flies for Pink Salmon, all depending on river conditions of course. Micheal & Young Fly Shop in Vancouver has everything you need for Pink Salmon fishing gear.

For gear fishing rods, I like some simply spinning rods, with braided line. You can feel the bites better and tend to lose much less gear than on straight monofilament. Remember, in British Columbia you must use a single barbless hook. Pinching the barb on your hook causes less stress on the fish and makes for easier releasing of fish back into the water.

Our guided Pink Salmon fly fishing trips include all the gear, spin or fly. And yes, I wrote this article to book a few guided trips for our crew, but hopefully you’ll give some good info if you’re just looking for some Pink Salmon fishing tips 😉


 

ETIQUETTE & GOOD FISHING PRACTICES

Some important things to remember if you’re out Pink Salmon fishing in BC. You 100% need a license, you can buy a freshwater BC fishing license and if you plan on keeping salmon, you will need to include a salmon conservation surcharge. Make sure you look at regulations before keeping any fish, retention limits change throughout the season. The link to the BC Freshwater Fishing Synopsis and in-season fishing announcements is a useful tool for this.

Here are a few other points that will make you a better steward to the environment when out fishing for Pink Salmon, and any other fish for that instance…

  • Keep fish in the water, don’t drag them up on the rocks. Use a rubber mesh net, nets minimize handling of fish and ensures they are kept in the water for a photo.
  • Be respectful of other anglers on the river. Give people space and just be nice. No one likes a lowholer.
  • Leave no trace. Always take your garbage home.
  • Respect the campfire regulations.
  • Don’t be a flosser and don’t be a snagger, that’s not how we do it here in BC.

 

GUIDED PINK SALMON FISHING TRIPS

If you’d like to go on a Pink Salmon fishing trip this Summer then why not fish with us for the day. We offer guided fishing trips from Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler all year-long and have been guiding the Squamish River system for 20 years. We are fully licensed and insured and have received the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence the last three years in a row.

You’ll fish with the most experienced guides in the Sea to Sky Region. We’ll pick you up at your hotel in Vancouver or Whistler or we can meet you in Squamish. We’ll also bring all the best gear, including waders, boots, rods and flies, so you maximize your day! Prices are in Canadian Dollars and do not include taxes.

One PersonTwo PersonThree PersonGear Rental
$495 CAD$690 CAD$975 CAD$39 per person

 

To book your trip call toll-free 1-877-902-3393 or email chromersportfishing@gmail.com. We’ll get back to you with more details and availability.


OTHER COOL STUFF TO DO IN SQUAMISH

If you’re visiting Squamish for some fishing, then there are lots of other cool things to do as well in town.

The top attraction in Squamish is the Sea to Sky Gondola, this will take you to the peaks overlooking beautiful Howe Sound. There are lots of other outdoor activities in the Squamish area. Go for a hike, take a dip in one of the local lakes or join Canadian Outback Rafting Company on one of their Squamish rafting adventures.

Need a place to grab a bite, hit up the WaterShed Grill for a feed, it’s a local’s favourite and overlooks the Squamish River. The Howe Sound Brew Pub is also a good option for local brews and food.

Best places to stay in Squamish while fishing are the Sunwolf Cabins or the Executive Suites.  If you’d like multiple days of Pink Salmon fishing, we do offer affordable fishing packages that include accommodations.

 


About the Author

Yos Gladstone is the owner operator of Chromer Sport Fishing, a guiding company and booking agency based in British Columbia, Canada. A full-time salmon & steelhead guide, Yos spends 200+ days a year on the water fishing, guiding and hosting trips.

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