Fly Fishing for Chum Salmon – Why You’ll Like It
This blog post will sound a lot like our “fly fishing for pink salmon – why you’ll like it” bit, but give it a chance… A lot of the same reasons hold true for chum salmon (a.k.a. tiger salmon), but there are some unique reason, too. So please read on…
The freshness and fight of all Alaska salmon deteriorate the longer they have been in fresh water, but this process seems to be more pronounced with chum salmon. So over the years, they developed a reputation as second-class salmon because most anglers fishing in Alaska experience these fish far from the ocean.
Fortunately, this stigma has changed over the last decade or so as more people learn about the incredible fighting power of ocean-fresh chum. The trick is to catch them in or near the salt water, while they’re still in prime fighting condition.
And you’ve heard this before, but one of the most unique offerings of SAFARI camp is the option to chase multiple species of salmon up and down a sandy (or rocky) beach, casting directly into the salt water before they enter estuaries or streams. The reality is very few fishermen in Alaska have ever pursued salmon like this and the beach setting will intrigue even seasoned salmon fishermen.
Here’s why chum salmon are exceptionally cool at SAFARI camp:
- Size. Big numbers of 8 to 12 pound fish, with 15+ pounders possible. (Note: these are actual weights – not fishermen exageration weight; most people over estimate salmon weight by 2 to 4 pounds.)
- You can catch them off the beach. Not quite as consisent as catching pink salmon off the beach, but when it’s really “on” for chum salmon, it doesn’t get any better than this.
- You catch them in prime condition. SAFARI camp is set up literally 1/3 of a mile from the salt water and most salmon fishermen catch chum salmon well past their prime, after they’ve journeyed many miles upriver from the salt water. Catching them in or near the salt is a completely different expereience – fresher, brighter and more aggressive.
- OUCH! Watch your knuckles! Ocean-fresh chum salmon make long, freight train like runs. More bruised and battered knuckles compared to any other Alaskan salmon species.
- Bull dog fight. As they color up more (a.k.a. spend more time in fresh water), they put up more of a tenacious bulldog-like fight, which tends to test the patience and arm strength of most fishermen.
- Top water action. Most people don’t know that when chum salmon are fresh from the ocean they readily chase top water flies.
- Yes, they are edible! Their flesh is lighter in color and flavor not as inherently profound as other species, but they are definitely good to east… as long as you catch them in or near the salt water. (Their flesh deteriorates rapidly in fresh water.)
- Unique coloration makes great photos. Because of their tiger stripes and large canine teeth, more fishermen want to photograph these interesting and peculiar looking salmon compared to other species. Close up head/mouth shots seem to be very popular!
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