Species Spotlight: Chum Salmon
Name: Chum Salmon
Also known as: Dog Salmon, Keta Salmon and Silverbrite Salmon.
Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus keta
Description: Being one of the five Pacific Salmon Species, this big bruising Salmon is renowned for its dog-like battles on the end of your fly rod. Depending on how long the Salmon have been in freshwater, they range from sporting colours with dog-like teeth through to fresh ocean chrome colours. These Salmon feed on insects and have often been very underrated as a species as they are not the best-eating fish. However, if you were to judge these fish by their fighting capabilities it would be a different story. Pound for pound they fall just under King Salmon for the best fight.
Average Size: The size of fish you expect to catch varies between 12lb to 40lb the actual size of the fish depends on how many years it has spent in the ocean as a juvenile Chum Salmon before deciding to return to spawn and die.
Where to catch Chum Salmon: Chum Salmon have the largest natural range of any Pacific Salmon and undergo the longest migrations which heavily involves the arctic ocean and the Bering seas which can often total over 2,000 miles of travel. Chum Salmon are found in a vast and wide range in the Pacific Ocean, right from the North Pacific Ocean to the Arctic coast of Canada as well as throughout the northern and west coast regions of the United States of America like the Puget sound and Asia. In Alaska, some of our favourite areas to catch these fish are Naknek River, Kanektok River, Agulawok River, Agulukpak River and the Goodnews River in southeast Alaska. In British Columbia, we love to target these fish on the Fraser River, Kitimat River, Yukon River, and the Skeena River.
Fishing Methods: As Chum Salmon migrate up the river from the ocean, they can be found holding in the softer water of a river’s plentiful gravel bars. The fact that these fish are fished with the same fly set up as you would for King Salmon really is a measure of the impressive strength of this species. Similar to fishing for Kings, you need to get your flies down to Chum Salmon, quite often they will be sitting just above a group of King Salmon as they are more than happy to run upriver together.
With this in mind, the ideal set up is a 12 to 15ft rod in a 8 -9 #. Chum are true dogs when it comes to the fight. They are not aerial fish like most of their cousins, they pull like a pit bull and don’t give up. Reels should have medium to high line capacity and a sturdy drag is a must. Not only do Chum Salmon blow through rods, but they easily burn through a weak drag system as well.
Chum like to sit in deep fast water, where they can dart away from predators such as bears and eagles. A lighter Scandi Head with a floating or intermediate sink tip is good for throwing smaller flies in softer water whilst a Skagit tip with both medium and fast sink tips for the faster water and deeper pools.
If you have any questions about our Chum Salmon holidays, contact us by email our experienced team will be happy to help you with any queries you have. Are you looking to explore more of our freshwater fly fishing holidays? We also have a great range of freshwater fly fishing videos that can all be found in our Freshwater fly fishing Youtube playlist. Make sure to view all our alternative Wels Catfish fishing holidays. Additionally, you can call us on 01603 407596 to make an enquiry.