Are Pink Salmon Just ‘Nasty Skanks’?

Of course they’re not, but that’s what a now-former fishing partner of mine called my favorite salmon species of all time.

“If Kings are the Bald Eagles of the salmon world, and silvers are the Peregrine Falcon, Pinks must be the inner-city pidgeons,” Sky-Guy writes even as some 5.3 million easy-to-catch pinks head back to Puget Sound waters this summer.

The salmonic slander was sparked by the catch late last week of a 5-pound buck. Sky-Guy, aka Ryley Fee of Woodinville, Wash., reports on piscatorialpursuits.com that he thought it was a coho and only¬† “somewhat reluctantly” kept it for his smoker.

Despite allegedly taking quick care to bleed and ice the fish, and then applying his so-called “best brine” for a whole day, the fish supposedly tasted like “garbage.”

“I spit it out onto the lawn and cursed it like the devil,” Fee told me over the phone not too long ago.

He readily admits to being an “elitist fish snob,” and said online that he was giving away the rest of the pink to a neighbor (I’ve already phoned my folks, who live nearby, telling them not to open the door to anyone bearing free fish).

Fee rates pink meat a mere 2 out of 10 compared to Chinook, coho and sockeye, and while I won’t argue that kings, silvers and sox DO indeed taste better than pinks, they’re actually not that bad when caught in the salt or even lower rivers. You don’t have to smoke them either, they’re fine on a BBQ or broiled. Think dill.

But Fee’s further lambastings — “Maybe thats the one thing pinks have going for (or against) them, they only come back every other year… so people forget how SKANKY they are in the interim….” has led to a five-page thread, snarky comments as well as defenses of the smallest of all West Coast salmon species:

“DEE LEE CIOUS,” wrote cheapskate.

“Nice vittles,” added Brewer.

“All this smack talk about the stinky pinkies. There fun to catch, and OK on the grill. Honey and Yoshida’s terriaki sauce makes them a decent eat. Better than coming home empty handed and having to tell your wife, who has been gripping about taking care of the kid all day by herself, that you came up skunked,” defended Uglybugger.

“P.S. Try smoking the meat next time instead of the sperm sacks. It tastes better,” taunted Addicted.

“Didn’t yo momma never teach ya to not put crab bait in ya mouth boy?” preached stlhead.

“for eating: pinks are a waste of time as tablefare. Ever wonder why the commies don’t bother with them. One summer on my high school friends dads purse seiner, we opened up the net and let a load of pinks go as they didn’t want to mess with humpies and get back to chasing more $$$ silvers instead. The only anglers who appreciate the humpies as tablefare are anglers who can’t catch much else in the way of salmonoids for the BBQ. But the WDFW touts the pink run all the way, desperate for some good fishing news while the commericals probably just laugh at how gullible the 90% sportsanglers are. 10%-ters don’t waste time keeping pinks for the BBq or for eating,” posted MAVsled.

“My name is 4Salt and I admit with not that much shame that I like catching chrome pinks with trout rods in tidewater. I don’t eat them… but I have in the past and when well taken care of and smoked properly they tasted just fine. They bite… they fight… there’s a sh!tload of ’em and they beat the hell outta catchin’ bass. I’ll be tossin’ the pink hoochie jig on my ultra-light in the lower Snohomish in a few weeks with the 10,000 others that’ll be there too and I won’t even be thinkin’ twice,” says 4Salt.

While someone by the name Rotten Chum started to get a little more excited in his defense of the venerable humpbacked salmon, Uglybugger brought the thread back around, pointing out, “Not speaking for the whole crowd here, but a vast majority of the people here are just talking smack … This kind of smack talk happens exactly this time on odd numbered years. Good fun.”

Indeed, good fun. I think I’ve heard the same sentiments every other year since elementary school as pinks flood Puget Sound rivers, far outnumbering the glamour species plus chums.

And if you’ve never tasted pinks, our July and August issues are chock-full of info on where and how to catch this year’s huge run. We’re on Auto Trader racks at convenience store as well as newsstands at Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer and some grocery stores. Pick up a copy, catch a pink and decide for yourself whether you’re with Fee or me.

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