The Chum Salmon is also known as the dog salmon because as it matures and enters freshwater its canine teeth grow longer giving it the look of a dog's mouth. The Chum Salmon are plentiful and grow between 24-28 inches in length. They typically weigh between 10 and 13 pounds when mature. They spawn once and then die. They are an odd colored salmon when they make their spawning run. They seem almost calico with colors of dark olive green and red that appear along their sides in alternative stripes almost as though they have been tie-died. These salmon are not known to swim far to spawn, and many excellent places to fish for them is around the mouth of major rivers and inlets. On the Yukon, they may travel upwards of 2000 miles to reach their spawning grounds, though that is limited mostly to the Yukon river run.
Where to find Chum Salmon
One of the best things about Chum Salmon is that they make to runs. The summer run and the fall run. Since most other species also run in the summer, June, July, August, the fall becomes a time for fishing Chum Salmon. Chum Salmon are some of the oddest salmon you will find. They fight like crazy, but they are not that particular about where they spawn. Most spawn fairly near the mouth of the river or where a tributary joins a major river. They almost prefer to spawn in the tidal waters between the ocean and the river. If you are looking for Chum Salmon head to the smaller and medium rivers. The deeper channels with slow-flowing waters that are replenished by spring run-off is a very typical spawning bed. That is important because like other salmon the Chum prefer to hang out in the deeper channels. If you can find a deep channel that abuts a rock cliff you will likely find these fighters banked up there. They have evolved to make it difficult for the bears to get to them. So keep that in mind as you hunt for the perfect Chum fishing spot. Water that is at least 2-5 feet deep, slow current and situated along the cliff is ideal.
How to fish for Chum Salmon
Let's talk about colors. Chum, like many other salmonids are very fond of hot pink, fuchsia and purple that is almost black. Because they like the deeper water dry flies are almost useless. The best bet is a jig combo with a bobber. You will have to estimate the depth of the channel, but the goal would be to have the jig sitting 2-8 inches off the bottom. That is where the Chum will be resting. If you can get the jig into the depth then, you will fight Chum Salmon all day long. Once you get them to hit, you can fish them for as long as you want.
Plunking is also a technique that works well for Chum. This is a method of fishing that uses a large lead sinker to plunk down in the Chum channel. The sinker holds the jig or fly in place and the current moves it around you can use the Jig motion with your pole to move the sinker around the hole. If you can get the plunker and the jig into the right spot, the fish will be crazy active hitting your jig. Plunking is, usually, done with a spinner rod rather than a fly pole. Jigging is easily done with either the spinner rod or a fly pole.
Chum Salmon Fishing on Alaska's Alagnak River
Types of Common Chum Flies or Jigs
- Jig - Spanker Jig in Purple and Pink
- Fly - Alaska Hot Bugger in Pink
- Fly - Clouser Minnor in Pink
- Fly - Conehead Kandy Kane in Pink
- Fly - Conehead Popsicle in Pink and Purple
- Fly - Deuce Wigalo in Pink
These are just a few of the common Chum Salmon flies. Be sure to stock up before you head out. Salmon are smart fish, and if you use the same fly all day long they will eventually get the hang of it. It is good to have a range of colors, and for Chum Salmon that means bright pink to bright purple and then fade to black. They will sometimes chase a chartreuse green fly or jig, and they will also hit the leech flies and jigs too. Overall, the Chum Salmon are amazing sports fish. They fight well, and they strike hard. They are excellent fish for fishermen of all skill levels, and they have something exciting to offer everyone.