pink salmon fishing

Pink Salmon Fishing in BC



Every odd year, so 2021, 2023, 2025, etc, 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 its tributaries including the Cheakamus River. The Squamish River is about an hour north of Vancouver, this is where we offer our 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.






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.


  • Fishing is best for pink salmon from mid July to early September.
  • High river levels in June make for tricky fishing.
  • The peak run of pink salmon in Squamish is in August.
  • Most of the pink salmon have spawned by mid September.
pink salmon fishing squamish


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.

  • Pink salmon fishing is fairly simple, a bit of general river knowledge is good to have.
  • Fish slower moving sections of river, where salmon are likely to rest.
  • Don’t fish too deep, most of the pinks we catch are in 3-4 feet of water.
  • Fish short and work long. Don’t wade to deep, you can spook fish near to shore.
  • Try to keep your fly in mid water, a T-8 or T-11 sink tip is good for this.
  • Be patient. Fish come through at different times, if they’re there you will see them roll.


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 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.

  • Bigger isn’t always better, small sparsely tied flies are good for clearer water conditions.
  • If river conditions are silted, fish some bigger flies.
  • All flies and lures must be single barbless hooks.
  • Small pink lures fished on the swing work well. Again, smaller is better.


The 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.

  • 6-8 weight fly rods are our go-to for pink fishing.
  • Floating lines with sink tips or slow/intermediate sink lines are preferred.
  • Sink tips in the T-8 or T-11 are good for low water.
  • Sink tips for bigger rivers or high water are usually a T-14/
pink salmon


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.
  • Be respectful of other anglers on the river. Give people space.
  • Leave no trace. Always take your garbage home.
  • Don’t be a flosser and don’t be a snagger, that’s not how we do it in BC.


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 fly fishing trips in the Sea to Sky region and have been guiding on the Squamish River system for 20 years.

When you book with us you’ll fish with the best guides in the area and see some beautiful country. We offer a variety of trips, including walk-n-wade trips, drift trips with rafts and multi-day packages.

Our service is all-inclusive, we can pick you up in Vancouver or Whistler, or you can opt to meet us in Squamish. We have a fantastic crew of seasoned guides who will make sure you have a fun and safe day on the river. Visit our Squamish fishing page for more info and pricing.

pink salmon fly fishing

pink salmon fishing

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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