Trolling is the primary way that people target pinks in the saltwater. It is highly effective and can quickly get fish in the boat.
The equipment and technique is pretty simple, and lets you cover a lot of water to find the fish.
Rod and Reel
A downrigger rod is ideal to use. As these are, relatively speaking, smaller fish you can use a relatively light rod. However hooking into a coho or chinook while fishing for pinks isn’t unheard of, so something with a bit of backbone is good – say a rod rated for 10-20 pound line. A Lamiglass Classic Downrigger rod would be an excellent choice.
For line I use 20 pound Maxima ultragreen, but if you have a different favorite that should work too.
For a reel it is worth the money to get a high quality reel, like the Shimano Tekota.
For terminal tackle the classic setup is a white flasher and pink hoochie.
Since these are smaller fish I prefer to downsize the gear so I can fight the fish, not the gear. So I use a 8 inch plain white flasher. Other colors also work, like chrome, pink and UV treated.
Pictured is both an 11″ and 8″ flasher. The 8″ has been modified by me to include the pink sticker.
For the leader you need some stiff line that really transmits the action of the flasher to the hoochie and makes it move. I use 40 pound fluorocarbon. The reason I use fluorocarbon is because it tends to be stiffer than mono.
For hooks I like the sickle style Big River hooks in the octopus model. 2/0 size is a good place to start. These hooks do a great job holding fish, even when used barbless.
For the hoochie I like the Ace High Fly Jr, in either Pink or Pink Splatter. However using a regular hoochie also works great.
Where regs allow it I like to tie the leader with a 2 hook setup, with the trailing hook hanging a bit behind the hoochie. The leader length from the hoochie to the flasher should be about 16 inches if using the 8 inch flasher, or 20 inches with the full size 11 inch flasher.
How To Fish It
Start by entering the trolling area – but far enough away from other boats to give you time to get everything setup.
It is usually best to troll with the tide, so make sure you know what direction the tide is running. You’ll want to go just fast enough that the flasher wobble side to side like a dodger, but not so fast that it starts spinning.
If regs allow add some scent to the setup, such as shrimp or krill smelly jelly.
Let out about 20 feet of line, and then attach it to the downrigger clip.
First thing in the morning start about 30 feet down. Go deeper as the sun climbs overhead. Most fish are caught in the top 60 feet. However, like all fishing, pay attention to the other boats and your finder – adjust depth to where the fish are & biting.
For more information on fishing for pink salmon please go here.