Not one but two pink salmon were caught off the far southern end of the Oregon Coast yesterday by sport anglers, the first time that’s happened in more than a quarter century.
Charter skipper Andy Martin of Brookings Fishing Charters said the pair landed by his clients were released but records he received from ODFW today show that the last time any pinks were hooked off his homeport was in 1993, when four were reported.
The species primarily returns to rivers hundreds of miles to the north, in the Salish Sea, and no more than a few dozen have been reported in any single year on the Oregon Coast since 280 were in 1991, including 54 that year at Brookings.
Mostly they’ve turned up at much more northerly ports — Astoria, Garibaldi, Pacific City, Depoe Bay and Newport, but also Winchester Bay.
The most on record is 7,711 in 1985, well before the era of the mega returns of the early 2000s to Washington’s Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Fraser River.
ODFW’s Eric Schindler didn’t have a good guess why after 26 years two pinks showed up at Brookings, but said it would be interesting if any more are caught there and elsewhere this year.
“We did collect some genetic samples back in the 1980s and all the pinks were identified as coming from the Fraser River, B.C.,” he said.
This is only speculation, but perhaps it says something about ocean conditions.
“Hopefully, those were the good luck pink salmon, and the rest of the year will be just as interesting,” Schindler said.
As for the rest of the Memorial Day catch for Capt. Martin’s crew, it included limits on rockfish, a Chinook, two other released salmon and a mackerel.