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Strait to Puget Pinks By Terry W. Sheely

The Smallest of the Pacific Salmon

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| HARBORS

www.harborsmagazine.com

She has a two-handed clench on the bucking rod, an expression that blinks from 9-year-old thrill to terror and in the next few frenzied minutes, she’ll stare in awe, mouth open, giggling, at her first salmon, dripping wet and wrapped in the blue mesh of her dad’s landing net. The fish is six-pounds, maybe more, small tight scales, a faint pink glowing on its flanks. She touches it tentatively, feels the cold of Puget Sound radiating from solid muscles, jumps when it flops and grins. And grins! That image from a couple of years ago is a warm spot in my memory and a big part of the reason why I love pink salmon and the odd-numbered years in which they return. In alternating years, Juan de Fuca Strait shoots a monster surge of salmon out of the Pacific and into Puget Sound. 2013 is that year. From July to September, saltwater from Sekiu to Seattle, Anacortes to Anderson Island

will morph into clusters of smokin’ hot salmon fishing destinations. That these salmon are pinks, aka humpies, and at 4 to 12 pounds, the smallest of our five Pacific salmon is only more reason to celebrate. The size is a perfect gateway to hooking beginners on salmon addiction. Pinks are scrappy, aggressive fish, flooding in by the millions, are a hoot when played and caught with trout rods, swim close to the surface in undulating packs marked by leapers, rollers and floppers, will make you a hero at the dinner table (if the fish is respectfully handled) and predictably will tickle kids, neophytes and sometimes-salmon seekers well, pink. Pinks Are a Digital Fleece-Age Appreciation Back in the Kodachrome flannel shirt era, when Puget Sound kings were king and silvers were thick, the smaller pinks were derided as lesser fish. There are still

a few king/coho purists, hold-outs who refuse to respect the Sound’s new summer salmon célèbre, but their salmon snobbery and priggish allegiance to day’s-gone-by are fading along with the era of swarming chinook and silvers. This is the summer of pinks, if for no other reason than overwhelming numbers. Consider: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Department (WDFW) is predicting a Puget Sound run of 6.2 million pinks this year and that does not include the 9 million more that also migrate the Strait, but turn left through the San Juan and Gulf Islands toward mainland spawning rivers falling off the coast of southern British Columbia. If you need more incentive, consider convenience. We won’t have to travel to fish for humpies, they’re coming to us. Most Puget Sound pinks are zeroing in on population centers: Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Anacortes and to get there, they must first run a gauntlet

The Kenmore Air Destination Magazine

HARBORS |

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HARBORS Summer 2013  

Summer 2013 issue of HARBORS Magazine, the Kenmore Air Destination Magazine

HARBORS Summer 2013  

Summer 2013 issue of HARBORS Magazine, the Kenmore Air Destination Magazine

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