August 4, 2013 in Outdoors

Field reports: Pink salmon flood into Puget Sound

Tacoma News Tribune photo

A pink – or humpback – salmon caught by Vladimir Veliovski of Pacific, Wash., flops on the beach Aug. 4 before Veliovski can get his hands on it. About 50 fishermen were catching pinks from shore and pier at Dash Point Park. Tacoma News Tribune
(Full-size photo)

FISHING – More than 6.2 million pink salmon are surging into Puget Sound this month in their return that occurs on odd-numbered years, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Anglers in the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Neah Bay to Port Angeles have been scoring big numbers of pinks for two weeks. Recently the run has progressed into the south to treat both bank and boat anglers all the way to Seattle, said Steve Thiesfeld, the state Fish and Wildlife Puget Sound salmon manager.

The pink run in marine areas of Puget Sound tends to peak by early-to-mid August. River anglers will start to catch them by late August through October.

This summer’s forecast is up more than 1.2 million pinks from the 2011 return. They are the most abundant and smallest of the five Pacific salmon species.

Another 8.9 million pinks are expected back in the Fraser River in Canada, which will also boost catches in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands.

Pinks are commonly referred to as “humpies” for a hump that forms on the back of male fish near spawning time.

While most other salmon species have dwindled, pink numbers have mushroomed for some unknown reason, colonizing in other Puget Sound rivers where they’ve never existed, such as the Green River.

The Green is expecting more than 1.3 million this summer. Other rivers with strong runs are Nisqually, 764,937; Skagit about 1.2 million; Stillaguamish, 409,700; Snohomish, 988,621; Hood Canal, 55,314; Nooksack, 154,075; and Puyallup, more than 1.2 million.

Pinks average about 5 pounds, and the state freshwater record is 15.40 pounds caught in October 2007 in the Stillaguamish River.

Anglers can keep up to four pinks daily.

Pinks are attracted to any type of pink or bright green colored jig, marabou fly, hootchie (plastic squid), lure, Dick Nite-type spoons and spinner.

Pinks taste great as long as they are bled immediately after being caught, and placed on ice. The meat quality falls off the boards once they enter freshwater.

ATVs still restricted on forest roads

OFF-ROADING – A new Washington law and ordinances in some counties allowing ATVs on county roads do not change the status of ATV use on U.S. Forest Service roads, the agency says.

State lawmakers passed a law allowing licensed all-terrain vehicles to use county roads, which went into effect on July 28. Okanogan County commissioners voted last week to open hundreds of miles of county roads to ATV use.

The law does not change the current status of ATV use on Forest Service roads, said Aaron Pratt, travel management plan leader on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Roads that were previously open are open, and roads that were closed remain closed.

Each national forest has a motorized travel plan that governs where vehicles can be driven. The Okanogan-Wenatchee is planning to release a new travel management plan this fall that will include routes for ATV use.

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