Chum salmon are a little like Rodney Dangerfield. They don't get much respect. But their fighting ability will demand it after you hook and fight your first one. They battle like a smaller version of a King salmon. They are powerful and will dog you right to the end. Over the past ten years, I've spent much of the summer seasons guiding anglers for these fish and they are invariably astonished at the power and tenacity these "little Kings" are capable of. They are fun to catch.
Like all salmon, Chum enter freshwater bright as a new dime and can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from Silver salmon when they are lying next to one another. (Most places these species don't run at the same time, but there are places at certain times when they do. Several times I have caught fresh silvers and Chum on the same day). That is where the similarity between these two ends. When comparing their fighting ability, I like the analogy that some people like to drive trucks and some prefer to drive sports cars. Truck people will love Chum salmon. The Chum is rugged and tough and stands its ground and just doesn't want to give up. Catching a bunch of Chums in day's time will leave your forearms aching.
Once these fish have been in fresh water for a couple of weeks they will develop their mottled calico colors of maroon and black. They begin to resemble a fearsome dragon-like creature the more they change, teeth and all, and unlike the other species of Pacific salmon, which steadily lose their vitality the longer they are in fresh water, the Chum can still be fun to catch long after the other salmon have given out. A colored-up Chum presents a great photo opportunity, but will not be worth eating. This is not to say you should ever fish for them once they've paired up and are on their spawning beds.
The Chum salmon is also a victim of bad press where its appeal to the palette is concerned. When the fish are bright their texture is firm and they are good to eat. Many night's Chums have been prepared for the evening meal at the lodges and the guests have been delighted. The guides also prepare many shore lunches with these salmon with the same results. You can order these recipes on the order pages. So, when you go to Alaska do yourself a favor and if Chums are available where you plan to fish give them a try. I'll show you the six best Chum flies (the sizes you need) and techniques to catch them.
For Chums there are six great patterns you should take with you. ($17.95 for the tying instructions and fishing techniques, or you can get six personally tied flies and tying instructions for $27.95). Both packages include pictures of the flies to help you tie them, tying instructions, knowledge and techniques to catch Chums, and a list of recommended equipment needed for your trip. Each additional set of six flies is $14.95. Take plenty with you because they work and you can't buy them there. Click here to order