Saltwater Fish, Pacific Northwest
Coho Salmon, video credit, Eiko Jones
In the early adult stage, pink salmon are often mistaken for chinook because both have spots on their tails. Mature males are yellowish gray on the sides of their body, blotched with brown, and dark along the back. Females are olive green on the sides of their body with dusky stripes. Both males and females appear dirty white below the lateral line, and their tails have large oval spots.
Pink salmon have tiny scales and a tail heavily marked with large oval spots. Unlike the other salmon species, the tail of a pink has no silver in it. In the sea, pinks have silver bodies with spotted backs.
They are the smallest of the Pacific salmon, usually weighing about 2.2 kg, but occasionally reaching 5.5 kg. They are more abundant in northern waters in even numbered years and in southern waters in odd-numbered years. Pinks live only two years.
I was a fishing guide in the 70,s and sometimes when the pink salmon were running, we would take our guests out after them, we called it humpy thumping, because of the hump they develop as they get ready to spawn. You could watch them coming down the straight, they would swim right on the surface. As they would pass the boat, l would tell my guests to get ready and then all lines would have a fish on. The excitement of fighting numerous fish at the same was a great thrill and my guests loved it.
We like to head down to our island rivers in the fall, when the pink salmon spawn, to watch the bears fish, the Quinsam River just out of Campbell River has plenty of bears.
You can almost always see them here, sometimes you can multiple bears fishing, we have seen up to 7 bears in one spot, quite impressive to view. Watching these bears fish for salmon is a pretty awesome way to spend the afternoon.