Species #106 — Chum Salmon

Arguably the coolest-looking salmonid, Chum Salmon are an underappreciated fish. Photo courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Species: Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
Location: Undisclosed Location, Pacific Northwest
Date: November 10, 2017

I already wrote this story for the Herald and News last year, so rather than spend too much time on the blog, you can just click here.

There were some solid photos my brother, Gabe Ovgard, gave me just recently, though, so I’ll share those here.

I only had one pair of waders, so after Gabe got soaked in rain gear, we traded.
Photo credit: Gabe Ovgard.

I don’t love doing “Photo Essays” on my blog, but since I already told the story, and these pics are solid, we’ll break that rule.

We fished long and hard. Passion and spunk overcame a complete lack of salmon fishing knowledge, and we got a few fish. Here’s Gabe trying his best.

Though Gabe spent most of his time shooting pictures, he did fish some.

He did a pretty good job. I just wish he’d had his camera when (1) I was dressed more the part of a fishermen and (2) when the Bobcat was catching salmon off of redds in front of us. Photo credit: Gabe Ovgard.

No, I didn’t use a spinner long. The baits/lures of choice? A swimbait (seriously, a Chinook hit it in the current) and a pink jig.

I have line in my teeth. That’s why I look positively heinous. Photo credit: Gabe Ovgard.

We fished hard, but the weather was terrible, and we weren’t at all dressed for it. That meant lunch at a local brewpub, a change of clothes, and a last-ditch attempt in the evening.

We finished with just two fish.

This buck struck at my jig and got snagged. I watched it happen five feet in front of me. The second one was hooked in the mouth. Photo credit: Gabe Ovgard.

I don’t normally like the “Combat Fishing” you see so often on rivers in the Pacific Northwest, but this fishery (at least, further upriver) isn’t too crowded.

I returned in 2018 to find a river that hadn’t seen enough rain, so the fish there were practically dead. On that return trip, I snagged one fish and landed zero. Not fun after driving the better part of an entire day.

This spawned out hen swam into my lure. I had one really nice fish hit a swimbait (probably 12-14 pounds), and it went on the single most impressive run I’ve ever seen from a salmonid in freshwater. It popped the hook five seconds in, then I snagged this one a few casts later.

It’s worth doing once or twice, but I doubt I’ll be back to that river. If you want to target chums, go further up the Washington Coast to the fisheries that are still viable.

#SpeciesQuest #CaughtOvgard

Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #106 — Rio Grande Cichlid.