*Sharper Hooks*
*Tighter Lines*
Chum salmon




Information & facts

Species Namechum
Chum salmon
(Oncorhynchus keta)

Common Names
Dog salmon, Sea Brite

Size Range
10-15 lbs, up to 33 lbs


Male chum salmon develop large "teeth" during spawning, which resemble canine teeth. This many explain the nickname dog salmon.

Chum use small coastal streams and the lower reaches of larger rivers. They often use the same streams as coho, but coho tend to move further up the watershed and chum generally spawn closer to saltwater. This may be due to their larger size, which requires deeper water to swim in, or their jumping ability, which is inferior to coho. Either way, the result is a watershed divided between the two species, with all the niches filled. chumfresh

Like coho, chum can be found in virtually every small coastal stream. In the fall, large numbers of chum can often be seen in the lower reaches of these streams, providing opportunities to view wild salmon in a natural environment.

Chum fry do not rear in freshwater for more than a few days. Shortly after they emerge, chum fry move downstream to the estuary and rear there for several months before heading out to the open ocean.

How to fish for Chum Salmon

Chum Salmon are the second largest of the Pacific Salmon, averaging 10 to 15 lbs, with plenty of 15 to 20 lb fish caught by anglers with the occasional over 25 pound Chum being taken. Most Chum salmon are caught by sportfishermen as they head to their spawning rivers and once they enter these rivers. When in or near the rivers the Chum salmon has colorful bars or stripes down their sides making them easily recognizable. The Chum salmon is a strong fighting fish that of all the salmon species the Chum is the most willing to strike a lure during spawning.

Most of the standard methods of fishing for salmon and steelhead in rivers will also work for chum salmon. Various types of spinners and spoons will attract bites from Chum Salmon as will small pieces of yarn tied at the top of the hook. Favored colors seem to be various shades of green, purple or chartreuse. Adding scent on the yarn often increases the action. By far the most effective method of catching chum in rivers is to short-float with maribou feather jigs.

Under the right conditions, fly fishing can provide tremendous Chum Salmon fishing. High stream flows can make fly fishing difficult, but when conditions are right, a large green or chartreuse fly fished deep in chum holding areas with a fast sinking fly line will often out fish conventional fishing techniques. Chum are big strong fish, and 9 to 12 weight rods and 10 to 15 lb. leaders are needed for these hard fighting fish.
Once Chum Salmon enter the river systems bottom bouncing is a very effective technique of catching them. Deep holes and runs are the best places to employ this technique. As the name employs bottom bouncing is just that, letting your bait bounce along the river bottom but in a controlled and precise manner. The basic rigging is very simple Your main line should be 15 to 20 lb with a barrel swivel attached to the end. A pencil lead weight is then attached to your swivel via some surgical tubing, depending on the current in the river, a 1/2 to 2 oz weight should be sufficient. Attached to the other end of the swivel should be 20 to 40 inches of 8 to 15 lb test leader line. At the end of your leader tie on a single barbless hook with a couple of eggs slipped onto the hook shank or a short piece of colored yarn tied to the eye of the hook. Colors that are productive are orange, red, pink, green, and chartreuse. 
Cast this rig to the top of the hole, then tighten your line just enough that there is no slack. Typically the current will push your weight along the bottom through the pool with your eggs or wool floating just 1 to 2 feet off the bottom, which is where Chum usually are holding. As your rig flows through the pool follow it with the tip of your rod. If a Chum Salmon takes your hook you will quickly know, if no bites occur by the bottom of the pool, reel in your line and cast again to the top of the pool. Bottom bouncing is all about feel so it can also take some time to master.

When fishing for Chum Salmon a medium or medium-heavy 8 to 10 foot river rod with a matching spinning or baitcasting reel will suffice for most rivers. The reels should have at least 250 yds of line capacity as Chum Salmon have been known to take off back towards the ocean when hooked.

Chum Salmon Fishing Tips, Tricks and Tactics

Additional Resources on Salmon Fishing

Hopefully my goal to make you a better salmon fisherman was achieved with the information you gained reading this section. However, you may still want or need to research other sources to improve your salmon fishing skills. That’s why I put together the below resources, they provide additional information on fishing for salmon and may also help improve your angling skills.