B.C. Boat and Sportsmen's Show
Fishing for Chum Salmon
I would like to try fishing for them and would like to know if anyone could give me some locations that I might try. I know timing is critical, so when I should be there would be helpful as well. I am not interested in keeping fish, just catching them. Love to release them back so I can catch their offspring for years to come. So.......whataya think? Can anyone give me some help here, eh? I hope so.

Now that's a question we can respond to with some good info...Anyway: there are a variety of locations around the lower mainland where one can angle for the purple striped snaggle toothed dog salmon from hell. Pick any stream from here to Hope and you will find Chum. Some of the more popular spots are the Squamish river area up Howe Sound (on the way to Whistler), and in the immediate area of Vancouver, we have, from west to east, the major spots: Stave River below the Ruskin Dam just north of the Hwy 7 crossing, Norrish Creek/Nicomen Slough area, Vedder/Chilliwack river on the south side of the Fraser, Chehalis River north of Harrison River confluence, and the Harrison River itself. Most smaller streams may have some chum coming in as well, but it's tough to deal with those unruly salmon in the small streams, sometimes. The Chum start showing up in good numbers after the end of September, and October/November is pretty well prime time. I've been on Norrish Creek in November and there are more fish than water in many places. They will go for flashy flies, like larger rolled Muddlers, egg patterns and sometimes green yarn will do it. Make sure you have stout tackle as a fresh chum can really make you work. I use a 9 wt. fly rod with a good quality disc drag reel and plenty of backing, and even that doesn't feel like enough rod sometimes. Be prepared for crowds as the meat fishermen tend to look upon the chum run as a feeding frenzy. The Stave can be especially wierd, but if you are willing to walk a bit you can find some quiet runs on the Chehalis, Norrish and Harrison systems.

Just about all our southern streams have good runs of chum salmon. I hear the Squamish system has some very nice chrome bright fish, but I am not up to speed on timing for that river. Most of the rivers in the Fraser system peak in October/November. A good one to try is the Harrison, as it is not as crowded as the Vedder or Chehalis, although access is more limited. Make sure you have a good stout rod as these fish are powerful and can be quite a handful in even the smaller streams.

The Chehalis without a doubt singlehandedly ousts any river in terms of chum production and probably chum returns. The hatchery releases in excess (for this years brood runs) of 10 million chum fry, so expect a usual HUGE return this year. If you hit it early enough when the chum just starting getting in (like early october to mid october) you can get into some good biting hard fighting chums that aren't the greatest looking fish but better looking then what they look like later on. There are also a few coho within the chum in the deeper sections of the river that you can hit on the chehalis as well if the water comes up. If you do get to the Chehalis, and want to get away from the crowds, just move down river, and get there on a weekday too. The Stave has been estimated to get above 200,000 chum adults in most years (and thats only what, 5 km worth of river? stacked with chum much???)

The Vedder also has a fairly worthy chum run, and I think if you wanted to have a chance at some other fish too, the Vedder might be your ticket, since something with flash or an egg type pattern might attract a hit from the 50,000 plus coho and 80,000 plus chinook that are running up with the chums at that time. If you know where to fish on the Squamish system you can hit chrome chums, provided you're fishing the right water and the right spots on the river and you have some idea of what you're doing. There seems to be a whole pile of differnet races of fish that run up at the same time on the Squamish and some of them mature faster then others or are probably spawning in different sections. If you want straight info, send me an email. I third just about everything these guys say, an 8 weight can do the job if you have an idea of how to fight these fish, but a 9 weight or better is recommended. If you want to try out some home made attractor type fly patterns that you have tied yourself, this is the time, since Chum are fairly aggressive fish, and if you want to save money on flies, you can just use yarn. I have found that in all honesty theres not too many colours that chum won't bite, but that chartreuse wool tends to produce females in a lot of cases (at least for me) and the hot pink wool can work quite well on the male chums, although I'm sure it doesn't matter. But again, colour isn't important all that much, they are quite aggressive fish in general.

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