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Species Info, Tips & Tricks - Chum Salmon

Species Info, Tips & Tricks - Chum Salmon

Chum salmon, vying for the title of the second-largest Pacific salmon species, boast an impressive size that can exceed 20 pounds. Unlike their counterparts, these remarkable fish undertake both short and lengthy migrations, showcasing their adaptability and endurance. While many chum salmon spawn in the coastal streams of British Columbia, some, like the Yukon River chum salmon, embark on extensive journeys of up to 2,000 kilometers.
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During their migration, chum salmon exhibit extraordinary feats of strength and speed, covering up to 35 miles per day in the ocean. Once they return to their home river, the fish navigate formidable currents, swimming more than 10 miles upstream each day at speeds of up to 14 miles per hour, propelled by the powerful flick of their tails.
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The life cycle of chum salmon is a testament to their resilience. Female chum salmon deposit thousands of eggs in stream bed redds between November and January. Two months later, the eggs hatch into yolk-dependent alevins, remaining within the gravel until they emerge as fry in the spring. These young chum salmon swiftly migrate to the ocean, creating mesmerizing ripples in calm bays with their graceful jumps.
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Chum smolts continue their journey north along the coast toward Alaska, covering impressive distances at rates of 3 to 16 miles per day. Along the way, they mingle with young sockeye and pink salmon, forming a dynamic migration pattern. After spending their adult lives in the open ocean, chum salmon return as 3 to 5-year-old fish, contributing to the cross-fertilization that aids in species preservation.
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For anglers seeking to catch chum salmon in saltwater, employing small mini squid, also known as Mini Sardines or Michael Bait, proves highly effective. Adding Krill Oil to the bait and using specific colors like greens, purples, and hot pinks can enhance success. Slow trolling with a 6/0 to 9/0 hook on a 23-inch to 26-inch leader, or even longer if necessary, increases the chances of a successful catch.
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During October, chum salmon schools numbering in the hundreds and thousands can be found in saltwater bays near estuaries. Their distinctive behavior of swimming in tightly packed schools on the surface and leaping creates a captivating spectacle for West Coast fishers.
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As chum salmon hit the rivers, they exhibit aggressiveness and can be targeted in slow to moderate currents deeper than 4 feet. Using a 1/4 ounce Steely Jig with a bobber and raw prawn, or twitching jigs in deep pools with little current, enhances the chances of a successful catch.
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After these aerial displays, chum salmon transition to their spawning beds, undergoing a process of physical deterioration. Their once-silvery bodies transform into a spectacle of alternating bars of color and hooked jaws, earning them the nickname "dog salmon." As they complete their life cycle, chum salmon leave a lasting impression on both anglers and nature enthusiasts alike.

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