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Chum Salmon fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.

Chum Salmon inhabits ocean and coastal streams. Migrating fry form schools in estuaries, remain close to shore for a few months and finally disperse to enter the sea. Juveniles and adults feed mainly on copepods, tunicates and euphausiids but also on pteropods, squid and small fishes. The species has the widest natural geographic and spawning distribution of any Pacific salmonid, primarily because its range extends farther along the shores of the Arctic Ocean than that of the other salmonids. Spawning populations are known from Korea and Japan and into the far north of Russia. Historically, in North America, chum salmon were distributed throughout the coastal regions of western Canada and the United States, as far south as Monterey, California. Presently, major spawning populations are found only as far south as Tillamook Bay on the northern Oregon coast. Adults cease feeding in freshwater. Males and females die after spawning. The catch is mostly canned but also sold fresh, dried-salted, smoked, and frozen. Eaten steamed, fried, broiled, boiled, microwaved, and baked. The best they used is for caviar.

Chum Salmon Fishing The chum salmon, Oncorhynchus keta, from Russian КЕТА, also known as Dog salmon or Keta salmon, Calico Salmon and Silverbrite salmon, Fall Salmon and Autumn Salmon, is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon family. It is one of the Pacific salmon, are widely distributed in North Pacific: Korea, Japan, Okhotsk and Bering Sea, Arctic Alaska south to San Diego, California, USA, Asia: Iran.

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Chum are substantial fish, second only to Chinook in terms of size in the Oncorhynchus genus of Salmon Family. Chum salmon can live to 7 years but usually spawn after 4 years. They generally weigh 12 to 15 lbs, with some reaching up to 30 pounds, and measure 35 to 45 inches long. Chum females usually smaller than males. Chum have fewer but larger gillrakers than sockeye and coho salmon. Chum have huge teeth and pronounced hooked jaws, which may have given them the nickname Dog salmon! Chum salmon have distinctive flesh: it’s mild and also low in oil. Because of this, they’re ideal for cold-smoking, a special talent among coastal First Nations.

Distinguishing characteristics

They have 10 – 14 dorsal soft rays, 13 – 17 anal soft rays, 59 – 71 vertebrae. Chum Salmon identified by the lack of distinct large black spots on the back, fins and tail, the slender caudal peduncle, and large scales. Caudal fin is divided into distinct portion; chest, anal and ventral fins have dark stripes on their rear ends. Also they distinguish by the presence of 18 to 28 short, stout, smooth gill rakers on the first arch, the pelvic fins with axillary process and their caudal truncate to slightly emarginate. The tail has silver streaks covering about half of the fin.
Chum Salmon identification

    Ocean stage chum salmon are silvery metallic greenish-blue along the back with black speckles, and faint indications of a vertical bar pattern may be visible. Silver on the sides; silvery to white ventrally. Males have tinges of black on the tips of its caudal, anal and pectoral fins. Spawning males are typically dark olive or gray to black dorsally; grey-red with green vertical bars on the sides; dark grey ventrally; anal and pelvic fins with white tips. Actively spawning females can display a horizontal black stripe in place of the bar pattern. The striped pattern is a signal to other fish that is used to reduce aggression. They closely resemble both Sockeye Salmon and Coho Salmon at this stage.
    As chum salmon enter fresh water, their color and appearance changes dramatically. Both sexes develop a like tiger stripe pattern of bold red and black stripes. Chum salmon are best known for the enormous canine-like fangs and striking body color of spawning males (a calico pattern, with the front 2/3 of the flank marked by a bold, jagged, reddish line and the posterior third by a jagged black line). Spawning females are less flamboyantly colored, has more modest head and jaw development, and resemble spawning males.
Chum Salmon Spawning

Spawning Phase Identification

Chum salmon distinguished by the vertical pattern of bars along the sides, dark or black ventral surfaces, and white tips on the ventral and anal fins. On the sides of large transverse bands of irregular shape in the lower body merging into a broad band of purple-crimson color. The gaps between the bands closer to the head yellow-green, closer to the tail - a dirty-gray or black. The males develop large heads with massive, elongated strong jaws, hooked snouts, and characteristic dog-like canine teeth that can explain the nickname dog salmon. The head of the female chum changes only slightly from the ocean form, with a slight elongation of the jaws and development of more modest spawner teeth. An enlarged adipose fin on males, usually 2-3 time larger than on female, is also spawning phase characteristic of the Chum salmon.

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    Chum Salmon is an anadromous fish; with the exception of a few landlocked populations, they inhabit both marine environments and freshwater costal streams. Chum salmon spawn in the lowermost reaches of rivers and streams, typically within 62 miles (100 km) of the ocean. Spawning sites are often near springs. They migrate almost immediately after hatching to estuarine and ocean waters, in contrast to other Pacific salmonids, which migrate to sea after months or even years in fresh water. This means that survival and growth in juvenile chum salmon depend less on freshwater conditions than on favorable estuarine and marine conditions.
    Juvenile Chum salmon in freshwater feed on plankton, later eat insects. In the ocean, they eat a variety of organisms, including crustaceans, sand lance, squid and fish species like herring, pilchards. Adults cease feeding in freshwater, their diet normally consists of other fish, jellyfish and squid. After approximately four years of life in the open ocean, the salmon return to the stream where they were hatched, spawn, and die soon afterward.
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Chum differ from most of the other salmon in that they have evolved to limit their freshwater life history by migrating immediately to salt water upon hatching and by their late spawning run. This life history strategy, which chum salmon share with Pink Salmon, reduces the mortality associated with the variable freshwater environment, but makes chum more dependent on estuarine and marine habitats. Spawning take place from ages 2 to 7, most commonly at age 4 when weight 5 to 10 pounds. They are the last salmon together with Pink Salmon in the season to take their spawning run, entering river mouths after mid-June but reaching spawning areas very late in November, even December. Sometimes it happened to be a second spawning run in summer; the summer spawing fish are smaller and don't swim far upstream. Chum Salmon Spawning Run

    After entering the creek and getting to the spawning area, the fish survive for 1 – 2 weeks. Chum salmon often spawn in small streams and inter-tidal zones and in small side channels, same places where Pink Salmon. Females choose a nest site (redd), defend the territory, dug the nest in gravel riffles, lay eggs, and bury the eggs. They deposit as many as 4,000 eggs, but an average of 2,444 to 3,100, eggs in nests, or redds. Males swim nearby fighting with other males to establish dominance and courting the female. To choose a site, females “nose” their way along the bottom occasionally stopping for a test dig. In addition to good gravel, they prefer to spawn above turbulent areas in places called riffle crests and away from other females.
    Once the redd site is established, the female guards the territory from other females and starts digging. To dig the fish turns on its side and flexes repeatedly, driving the tail on to the gravel bottom. In this manner, she digs a cone shaped hollow 10" to 20" deep. Sand and gravel are generally flushed from the redd leaving clean gravel and cobble. Between digs the female turns and swims to the back of the nest. She also weaves over the nest in a circular and figure eight pattern. As the nest develops, she will also “probe” the nest with her belly. When she can drop her belly deep enough into the redd, the digging is done.

    Male courtship consists of establishing dominance among competing males and courting the female. In the principal display, the male makes a quick approach along side the female, stops and “quivers” for 1-2 seconds. This can be observed and is best described as the fish is vibrating. The male does the “cross over” display, repeatedly swimming from one side of the female to the other, crossing over her back.
    As the nest nears completion the female decreases her turning, circling, and weaving between digs. The male increases his quivering and crossing over. When the female is ready to deposit eggs, she goes to a “crouch” position inside the redd. This is a probe, with the belly deep in the redd, but with the mouth held wide open. The male immediately moves along side. The female releases eggs and the male releases milt. It takes about 10 seconds to deposit the eggs and both fish quiver throughout. The female immediately starts to cover the redd. The first few digs are gentle and drive the eggs down into the gravel. The rest are full digging strokes and cover the eggs deep in gravel.
    As soon as the redd is covered, the female starts to dig a redd just up stream, further covering the eggs in the nest below. Often she will dig 4-5 nests one just above the next, depositing eggs in each one. The whole process takes 30-40 hours, after which the female lives her short life guarding the territory. The final redd, or set of nests, generally looks like a 5-10 foot length of disturbed gravel with a depression at the upstream end. The eggs are buried throughout the disturbed gravel, not just where the depression is. After spawning, the male moves on to find another female. In this way, a dominant male might fertilize several redds.

    When dense aggregations of fish simultaneously occupy a relatively small area, only a few females will be able to establish and occupy territories. When females must compete for spawning sites, there are several tactics that females can employ while they search for an appropriate nest site. The most energy-conservative behavior is to move among existing territory holders (like a pinball) until a suitable site is located. A more costly strategy is to attack and evict a territorial female.
    When male/female ratios are low, males can move from one sexual partner to the next and consequently most of their instream movement, other than courtship activity or intrasexual aggression, will be searches for females. As the male/female ratio increases, intrasexual competition for females can change the amount of time some males will have to spend searching for females. Male chum salmon use physical force—open mouth rushes, bites, and body blocks to exclude or usurp sexual rivals from females. Occasionally, these displays escalate into ritualized battles complete with stereotypic displays. The ability of a male to win these contests and otherwise defend or obtain new mates depends primarily on his relative size and to a lesser extent, his physical condition. When there is such competition among the male, smaller males must resort to other tactics. These so-called satellite males assume the coloration of females (horizontal dark lines, they can change this coloration almost instantaneously) to avoid being chased off by the dominant male. Generally, there will be one or two satellite males and there is a hierarchy among the satellite males. These males detect when egg release occurs and they dart up to the spawning pair and release milt, sometimes fertilizing up to 25% of the eggs. Typically 2 or 3 different fish succeed in fertilizing a portion of the eggs.
Chun Salmon Hatch The eggs hatch 120-150 days after spawning between early March and early May. They begin exiting out of the larvae from the soil in April and lasts for up to 3-4 months. After emerging from the soil the larvae swallow air, filling their swim bladders with it. These young fish are called alevins. At this time, the alevins remain in the redd in order to absorb nutrients from their egg yolk sacs. Upon hatching, alevins wriggle deeper into the gravel and emerge at night to feed with insects.
Chun Salmon Fry

Chun Salmon Larvae After about a month, the salmon, now called fry, emerge from the redd. Fry instinctively hide, deal with river currents, learn to school together to avoid predators and many other survival skills. The fry do not reside in fresh water for a long period of time after they are hatched, unlike other types of salmon. They will swim about feeding on tiny invertebrates and on the carcasses of the spawned out adults. Fry live in fresh water about 1-2 months, quickly move after that to saltwater coastal areas.
At this time there are 10-14 dark oval transverse spots formed on the sides of the fry. Fins becoming orange-red color. There are 14 to 25 short, thick, blunt ends gill rakers. Stamens shorter than the average of the opposite gill filaments. Pigmentation spots over the base of anal fin never happens, they are on the tail stem just above the lateral line. There is greenish or golden tinge above and below the lateral line. The head is very massive with upper jaw is beyond the posterior edge of eye. Length of anal fin base longer than spins. Chun Salmon Fry
Chun Salmon Smolt Smolting is a physiological change which when completed enables the fish to live in salt water and not absorb the salt into its blood stream. Smolts are juveniles, sinking into a sea. They have small eyes, relatively small scales, and 25 thick and short gill rakers, rarely seated. In May the juveniles an average weight of 500 mg begin migration to the sea.
Once a fish turns into a smolt it is ready to begin its migration down the river and into the ocean where it will spend the next phase of its life. After the release of juvenile fish in the sea they keeps near the coast for the 3-4 months.
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Fishing Methods

    Chum salmon can be caught with various techniques, these include driftfishing with a float, bottom bouncing, spinning with spoons or spinners in rivers, trolling in the ocean with hootchies. Typical colors used for chum salmon include green, chartreuse, pink, peach, orange and purple. The fall runs of Chum salmon start to return in September and by mid October. Pound for pound they may be the hardest fighting salmon of all five species. Finding the chums in the first place defines how successful your fishery will be. Chums may be in deep water, but often can be in very shallow shoreline water, thus giving the beach angler and the car-top boater an opportunity for some excellent angling. Fortunately, schools of chum will show themselves by jumping and splashing.

Fly Fishing .
    Virtually any old fly rod will do the trick. A 5 or 6 weight rod is great, 8 to 10 lb test line will do the work, hook size should be no. 4 or 6. As far as the fly is concerned, just about anything green, purple, and hot pink will serve you well. For the below average fly caster one of the benefits is the line does not have to go out far. (or straight) 20 to 30 foot cast will work. Once your line is out, at a medium speed strip your offering back towards you.
Spin Casting.
    Spin casting is another way of attracting Pink Salmon. Preferably a light or an ultra light rod between 5-6 ft. in length. At the end of your line attach a spoon. These fish are not very picky. A 1/4 -3/4 oz silver or brass spoon with some pink or bright red on it will work very well. Cast out and with a slow retrieve you will attract fish.
    Most chum will be in the top 60 feet of water. Concentrate your fishing there, while paying close attention to the top 30 feet of the water column. Troll as slow as possible, then try to go slower. Dodgers are made to troll slow, so this may be the one time they will out-fish flashers. Normally, flashers in order to fish effectively need to rotate. Chum are plankton eaters. As they return to spawn, they start eating a herring. Use lures that appeal to Chum. Chum also are attracted by lures in green, purple, and hot pink colors. The closer they are to their spawning streams, the more likely they are to take herring. Up until then, artificial lures are the most effective like small mini squid with the shrimp Smelly Jelly.
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