humpie, humpback salmon
3-5 lbs, up to 12 lbs
Male pink salmon develop a large hump on their back during spawning, hence the nickname humpback
salmon. This is the smallest of the fall-spawning Pacific salmon. In Washington, pink salmon
runs only occur in odd-numbered years.
Pinks use the mainstems of large rivers and some tributaries, often very close to saltwater. Because
their fry move directly to sea after emerging, the closer they spawn to saltwater the better. The
shorter journey reduces predation and increases survival. Sometimes pink salmon spawn right in
saltwater, avoiding freshwater altogether.
Pinks have a very regular life history, living for two years before returning to spawn the next
generation. This is why pink runs in Washington only occur every other year; there are no
one-year-old or three-year-old fish to establish runs in the other years.
As mentioned, pink fry do not rear in freshwater. Immediately after emerging they move
downstream to the estuary and rear there for several months before heading out to the open
ocean. Because of this, pink fry have no spots, which provide camouflage in streams, but are
bright chrome for open water.
- Mouth is white with a black gum line
- In marine areas, almost no teeth
- Large oval spots on both lobes of tail
- Large black spots on back
- Pointed lower jaw
- No silver on tail
- Very small scales
The mouth of a pink is white, but the gums and tongue are black,
as they are in a chinook. It does not have "teeth" on its tongue.
The pink salmon tail is covered with large oval spots. It does not have silver on the tail.
The scales are very small compared to other salmon of the same size.
Alevin - The lifestage of a salmonid between egg and fry. An alevin looks like a
fish with a huge pot belly, which is the remaining egg sac. Alevin remain protected in
the gravel riverbed, obtaining nutrition from the egg sac until they are large enough to
fend for themselves in the stream.
Anadromous - Fish that live part or the majority of their lives in saltwater,
but return to freshwater to spawn.
Emergence - The act of salmon fry leaving the gravel nest.
Fry - A juvenile salmonid that has absorbed its egg sac and is rearing in the stream;
the stage of development between an alevin and a parr.
Kype - The hooked jaw many male salmon develop during spawning.
Parr - Also known as fingerling. A large juvenile salmonid, one between a
fry and a smolt.
Smolt - A juvenile salmonid which has reared in-stream and is preparing
to enter the ocean. Smolts exchange the spotted camouflage of the stream for the chrome
of the ocean.
Substrate - The material which comprises a stream bottom.