Sometimes called “humpies” because of the large humps that develop on the backs of spawning males, pink salmon return weighing 2-9 lbs. They have oblong spots on their backs and tail fins, and mottled flanks during spawning. Like the other Pacific salmon, they are silver while at sea, but their sides may have a greenish coloration.
Most pink salmon in Washington State return during odd numbered years, usually to the lower reaches of rivers from July to September. One place to see them is in the Dungeness watershed, along the Gray Wolf River near the trailhead during these months. Historically, nearly 100,000 pink salmon homed to the Elwha River during odd numbered years.
Though pink salmon, along with chum, are the most abundant of the Pacific salmon, they are the scarcest of all in the park rivers. Their numbers have seriously declined throughout the peninsula, especially in the Dungeness and Elwha watersheds. (Historic Range Map)
Elwha pink salmon are a native, wild stock of critical status. They are practically gone from the Elwha River, with 100-200 fish returning during odd numbered years. The river is closed to the harvest of pink salmon. With the removal of the dams, numbers of pink will likely remain low until a threshold is reached, at which point, numbers will increase rapidly. Returns of approximately 100,000 fish could be reached over a 20 year recovery effort.