Some Chum Salmon travel more than 2,000 miles to spawn, and migrate great distances out to see after becoming free swimmers. They are found in the north Pacific Ocean, near Korea, Japan, and the Bering sea, as well as British Columbia; also reaching from Alaska to Oregon, and as far south as the Sacramento River in California. Known throughout Alaska as “dog salmon”, they are the most abundant commercially harvested salmon, but used more prominently as a traditional source of dried fish, and even nourishment for sled dogs.
Chum Salmon are metallic greenish-blue on top, and have fine black speckles, similar to Sockeye and Coho Salmon. Upon reaching fresh water, purple and green vertical stripes appear, causing their color to fluctuate. Very large teeth and a hooked snout are representative of males, lending to their nickname. Females are usually smaller than males, which average between 7 and 18 pounds. The largest Chum Salmon ever caught, at Edye Pass, British Columbia, weighed 35 pounds.Small insects are the main food source as they pass through streams and estuaries. Once they arrive in the open, Arctic salt water, Chums fatten themselves on zooplankton and other tiny marine creatures. They typically spend most winters of their three-to-six year lifespan in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. After returning to fresh water from spawning they are expected to live only about another two weeks.
Although not as commercially valuable as their cousins, numbers of Chum Salmon are still part of an exciting family, and their runs are something to behold. In the open water they are more difficult to tempt, but still provide great sport; recognized by many to be stronger and more tenacious than any other salmon.