Chum Salmon Fishing 101

Chum Salmon Fishing 101

The Dog Salmon, the Tiger Salmon and the Sabre-Toothed Salmon are all names for Chum Salmon. While many anglers specifically targeting Coho and think of Chum as a nuisance, they are actually a very underrated game fish for our waters. However, 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 or 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 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 30-35grams in various styles. We recommend larger sizes because you are fishing heavier gear. Some good flaot choices are the Cleardrift Big Water or Sleeker floats, DNE Foam Floats or the DNE Stick Floats.

Mainline / Leader Line: Run 20-25lb Berkley Big Game, Maxima Ultragreen or Stren Original Clear Blue mono for a mainline. If you are using braided line 40lb-65lb Tuf-Line XP, Sufix 832 or Power Proare good choices. Leader line should be 15-25lb leader with Maxima Ultragreen being the go to for mono and Seaguar Blue Label, STS or Basix for Fluorocarbon.

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. These include the depth of your set-up and the colour of your jig.

Like any float fishing set-up for a river situation, your best presentation and approach to a Salmon is to 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 and 2 feet from the bottom. If you notice that the 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.

Casting Lures/Spinners:

While not the most widely used method to catch Chum Salmon it doesn't mean that Chum don't bite lures. They will bite spinners such as the Prime Lures Clean Up Crew and Blue Fox Vibrax.  Spoons such as the Gibbs Kit-a-Mat, Gibbs Koho, Prime Lures Glory Spoon and Gibbs Crocs.  A little trick that can help up the productivity of your lures is to add a small hootchie to the lure.

Fly Fishing/Spey Fishing:

This is an extremely fun way to pursue and battle 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 the same colour combinations as your jigs.  Rods need to be a minimum of 8 wt as these can be large strong fish we have lots of good choices to choose from such as the Redington Crosswater, Echo Lift, Fenwick Aetos, Sage Foundation, Sage Sonic and St. Croix Imperial.  Reels should also be rugged enough to deal with these fish you can't go wrong with the Echo Ion, Sage Spectrum C, Redington Behemouth or the Galvan Rush Lt or the Galvan Torque.  

Baits, Lures, and Scents:

Now that we have covered the main techniques and basics on how to fish for Chum, we will 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, otherwise known as presentations, 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 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. That being said, a plain jig works just fine in a lot of scenarios. We will also talk about scents further in our post.

Chum Salmon are mainly fished in flowing water of walking speed pace, but how does one fish stagnant water for Chum? We use lures as 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 talked about natural baits on our artificial baits, but how about adding scents to our artificial lures? 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 artificial lures, especially jigs, and adding scent has increased bites instantly. We suggest an oil form if you are going to add it to your jig, as a gel form may take away the action of your jig.  

Here are some of our favourite scents:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by 

Sea-Run Fly & Tackle at #110 1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.

Good luck on the water.

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