Chum Salmon Fishing 101
The Dog Salmon, the Tiger Salmon, and the Sabre-Toothed Salmon! Yes, they are all names for Chum Salmon. While many anglers specifically targeting Coho think of Chum as a nuisance, they are actually a very underrated game fish for our waters, but you have to get them in prime condition and during the proper time of year. These fish are not only big, but put up a good strong battle in most scenarios. Chum can be easily targeted with a variety of methods including float fishing, casting lures and spinners, and fly fishing. This is a great fishery to get newer anglers introduced to the sport, or for the seasoned veteran to have some fun and brush up their skills as Chum numbers can be quite abundant.
There are many places you can target and fish for Chum effectively. River systems such as the Stave, Harrison, and Vedder/Chilliwack are your best options for steady action. An angler can use the three of the techniques mentioned above to successfully catch fish all day long.
We have composed a checklist of lures and presentations to use for Chum Salmon.
General (Terminal) Tackle:
Floats: Average sizes range from 30-40grams in various styles. We recommend larger sizes because you are fishing heavier gear.
Mainline / Leader Line: Run 20-25lb mainline with a 15-20lb leader. Nothing less, nothing more. These will do you just fine. If you are finding the fish may be a bit leader shy, you can swap our your monofilament leader to a fluorocarbon leader.
Float Fishing Jigs:
By far one of the most effective techniques for catching Chum Salmon is float fishing jigs. There are not too many tricks to this method, but there are a few simple tips to maximize your catch ratio; Depth of your set-up and colour of your jig. Like any float fishing set-up for a river situation, your best presentation and approach to a Salmon is be set your gear above the fish. This term is known as short-floating. Depending on water conditions and the runs or pools you are fishing, you should set your depth to be between 1-2ft from the bottom. If you notice at times fish are closer to the surface or stacked up throughout the water column, try fishing even shallower. Fish can only see sideways and up, and if they want to bite your jig, they will swim for it. Always remember this rule! There are a variety of colours that will get the aggressive strike of a chum. Combinations of Pink/Purple, Cerise/Purple, Black/Blue, Pink/Blue, Blue/White, Chartreuse/Pink and much more will all catch Chum Salmon.
While not the most widely used method to catch Chum Salmon, there is a trick to enticing more strikes… Add a hootchie to you’re the back of your spinner or spoon!
Fly Fishing/Spey Fishing:
An extremely fun way to pursue and battle out fierce Chum Salmon, the fly rod is a great tool to catch these fish. Floating lines with weighted flies, or sink tips and unweighted flies are the ticket in same colour combinations as your jigs.
Baits, Lures, and Scents:
Now that we have covered the main techniques and basics on how to fish for Chum, we will now go over specifics pertaining to different baits, lures, and scents that can give you the extra edge on the water, and increase your catch numbers.
Baits, or otherwise known as presentations, these are what you are going to have under your set-up that the fish will bite. Your presentation could be a natural bait like roe or prawns, or an artificial such as a jig or fly. Natural baits are rarely used for Chum Salmon, although paired up with different things, they can be very effective. One natural bait that works very well is a prawn. While prawns are a good general natural bait, we do not recommend using them on their own, but by placing them on the back of your jig. A jig tipped with raw prawn is incredibly tough to beat most days. With this set-up, you get the best of both worlds. Another thing you can tip your jigs with is Berkley GULP’s Aritificial Sang Shrimp (Scented), and Mad River or equivalent curly tail grubs. That being said, a plain jig works just fine in a lot of scenarios. We will also talk about Scents further into our post.
Chum Salmon are mainly fished in flowing water of walking speed pace, but how does one fish stagnant water for Chum? Wellâ€¦Lures, hardware, jewellery, they all mean the same thing, and while not the most desirable presentation for most anglers, you may be missing out on some extra action. Now we know that lures are a very popular approach to catching different species of Salmon, Chum can be a tricky species to catch on a lure without the correct accessories. We have one MAJOR hint and tip; Throw a hootchie squid on the back!! It has been proven time and time again that placing a hootchie on the back of your spinner can increase your catch amount by huge margins. Colours that we suggest include Pink w/sparkle, Pink Glow, and Chartreuse/Green UV. Float fishing Colorado blades of brighter origins can be effective as well.
We talked about natural baits on our ariticial baits, but how about adding scents to our artificals. In essence, this is very similar, and can be a lot easier at times with very little mess. Not only is it less messy, but you can experiment with various flavours that would be difficult to find in a natural and solid form. In many cases fishing with artificials, especially jigs, adding scent has increased bites instantly. We suggest an oil form if you are going to add it onto your jig, as a gel form may take away the action of your jig.
Here are some of our favourite scents:
- Pro-Cure Sand Shrimp Oil
- Pro-Cure Shrimp/Prawn Oil
- Pro-Cure Anchovy Oil
- Pro-Cure Herring Oil