Silver lining can be found in pink salmon with a little effort

While some fishermen scoff at keeping pinks, some find a use for the fish

Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2006

KENAI - Now is the time of year when enterprising fishermen turn their attention from the dwindling red run to silvers.

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But this year fishermen may want to expand their horizons to include yet another salmonid. Although absent last year, as they are every odd-numbered year, this year humpies, also known as pinks, are making an appearance.

In Kenai's Cunningham Park last week, whether fishermen were targeting them or not, humpies made sure no lure was left neglected.

"Somebody's got a fish on every couple of minutes if you look downshore," said Ron Calliou, of Kenai.

After two hours of fishing at the park, Montenieri said he had caught five or six humpies, of which he had kept two.

In Southeast Alaska the pink salmon run is at a record low. This month the state closed down the Southeast's purse seine fisheries after only 8.4 million pinks were harvested, down from the 10-year average of 42.5 million.

Although many fishermen scoff at eating the sometimes soft-fleshed humpy, Montenieri said he thinks the fish is delightful when smoked, particularly when smoked with alder or maple wood.

Some fishermen interested in only silvers threw humpies back, but others said they would keep them if they knew of a good way to prepare them.

"I've heard that it's good if you can it, but I haven't been too impressed," said David Hess, of Anchorage, who wasn't keeping any humpies.

David and his fishing partner, Doyle Hess, of Nevada, said that between the two of them they had caught two silvers and four humpies in about 45 minutes of fishing with pink Vibrax for lures.

Some fishermen were taking a little of both home from the park.

After about two hours of fishing, Calliou had one silver and two humpies to take home. He had caught four humpies but let two go.

"They're not the tastiest," he said. "If you're going to take up freezer space you might as well do it with silver."

• Additional reporting done by Elizabeth Bluemink / Juneau Empire

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