Oncorhynchus Keta

Salmonidae

Salmoniformes

Rivers, Nearshore, Offshore

9 - 35 pounds

24" - 42"

Chum Salmon Game Fish Quality Decent
Chum Salmon Meal Quality Very Good
Chum Salmon Fly Fishing Quality Excellent

Chum Salmon

Chum Salmon
Also Known As: Keta Salmon, Dog Salmon 

Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) Fish Description

The Chum Salmon is an underrated game fish that thrives in both fresh and saltwater. In the ocean, they are blue-green in color and have a silvery appearance (which helps them blend in the ocean), but when they are fully matured and return to freshwaters, they change to olive-green with pink stripes. Females change to brown-grey with a large dark horizontal bar. They eat a variety of prey such as small fishes, mollusks, and squids.

 

Interesting Facts about the Chum Salmon

  • They are anadromous, meaning they mature in the sea then travel back to freshwaters to spawn.
  • Matured male chum salmons develop their snouts into a hook-like shape called ‘kype’ and large canine teeth which they use to fight with other males. Females have kypes too but they’re less noticeable compared to males.

 

Size and Speed of the Chum Salmon

The chum salmon is medium size fish that averages 24 inches in length and between 9.7 to 22 lbs in weight. The world record for the chum salmon is 42 lbs and 44 inches. The average speed of chum salmon is 1-1.8 mph.

 

Habitat and Distribution of the Chum Salmon

Out of all the salmons, the chum salmons make the longest migration. They can travel up to 2000 miles from the ocean to the rivers where they were born to spawn. Spawning usually happens during fall, but sometimes it happens in late summer. The eggs will hatch in winter and the fries will hide under branches, water plants, and rocks to survive and feed. As they grow bigger, they become more adept at saltwater and slowly make their way to the oceans.

Their preferred depths in the ocean are usually around 42 feet but at night they swim near the surface, around 16 feet. The preferred temperatures of adult chum salmons are between 39.92 to 77.9°F. The chum salmon fry meanwhile prefers temperatures between 53.6 to 57.2°F.

Out of all the salmons in the Pacific, the chum salmon is the most distributed. They can be found throughout the North Pacific Ocean to the Arctic coasts of Canada. Fishing spots for chum salmons are located in Stave River, Harrison River, Chilliwack River, Puget Sound, Yaquina Bay, Oregon, the West Coast, and throughout Alaska.

 

How to Catch Chum Salmon

Anglers love fly fishing chum salmons in their prime, they can give you a tough battle and they’re also good to eat. One of the most preferred methods is through sight casting. They are said to be pretty easy to catch but they’re also easy to spook. So don’t cast your line right in the middle of the school or an individual. Just cast your line a few feet off the edge from the school. In the ocean, make sure to set your gear to depths of 15-40 feet.

The recommended gear for chum salmon fly fishing is a 7-9 weight fly rod with a full floating line or semi-floating. The mainline should be between 20-25lb combined with a 15-20lb monofilament leader. A clicker reel is more reliable but a drag reel will also be fine. Use a weight of ½ to 2 oz to reach the desired depth.

For the lures, use chartreuse-colored flies to capture the attention of the fish. Other colors such as pink and purple have been reportedly successful too. For baits, what anglers usually use are prawns.