About this blog

This blog is all about fly fishing for native trout. On it I cover trip reports, fishing tactics, conservation, the latest news about native trout species and much more. This site provides a companion to my web page nativetroutflyfishing.com.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Fall Chumin'

Fall is a great time to fish in Washington, especially if you are not too averse to fishing in inclement weather. The biggest problem is that there are too many options, however one my favorites is chasing after chum salmon that flood into the countless small streams draining to the Puget Sound. While chum salmon are often looked down upon by many anglers due to their poorer quality as table fair, they certainly offer everything that one could ask for out of a game fish and more than some of the more respected species can claim. These salmon are brutish battlers, being the both the second largest and second most abundant Pacific salmon. Chum arrive in good numbers and go nuts when hooked. They are great jumpers with my personal record being one that jumped 9 times before coming to hand. As if their jumping ability wasn't enough, these fish can peel some serious line off of a reel and as the fastest swimming of the Pacific salmon seeing backing is a regular occurrence. So while some continue to hold prejudices against these amazing fish, I like to enjoy what I view as a world class fishery in my back yard. (Literally... a chum stream flows through the woods behind my house!)
Chum time

This year has been a bit of strange chum year, with an unusually high number of torrential rain storms throughout October, the fish have been early and in many cases have not paused long enough to be targeted in the estuaries. However with countless streams hosting these fish there is always somewhere to look.
Spot A... No chum...

My first few trips for chum where a bit of false starts, with several hook ups and even a brief run in with coho number 7 (7th hooked and lost this year...) but nothing landed. This is even with the factor of covering some serious ground, from my home streams to the Olympic Peninsula.
Spot B... No chum.... Breath taking views....
Spot C... Chum in the creeks (find the chum; hint under the tree) Big boy hooked and lost and coho lost ... Nothing to hand

However these false starts have since not been an indicator of success as the season goes and by directing my attention to the later timed runs a little closer to home things started working out a bit better. Chum will respond to a variety of tactics from stripping flies to dead drifted indicator fishing and it is always fun to sample a variety of tactics throughout the season. So the other day while fishing with Colton and Jonathan did a bit of everything, although the dead drift seemed to be the favorite on the high tide. In fact within the first half hour it resulted in two fish landed for me and two more lost.
Chum #1 a beautiful hen

Stripping flies is a bit more complicated though, as like other salmon species chum do not eat out of hunger once they get near fresh water, but instead it is more about aggression. With certain colors triggering that response better than others some times the stars just have to align right for a fish that doesn't want to eat any to get up and chase down and eat a fly. Chartreuse, blue, purple, cerise and other bright tones all seem to work well, but when one fails to get a response you can't be afraid to change things up. In the morning apparently blue was the ticket...
A release for me (#2) and a jumping chum for Jonathan (a bit of blurring to protect a sensitive run)

Chum #3 of the day for me...

Blue may have been the ticket, but chum being the battlers that they are thinned out our fly boxes a bit quicker than planned after a few break offs and several backing runs and it was back to the drawing board. When I did finally find the fly again, a chartreuse and orange prawn fished with a slow retrieve it resulted in two loooong-distance releases within 10 casts before a third fish finally broke it off.

However stripped flies have their place and once the chum pack into an area to thick, accidentally snagging fish become a serious consideration and a dead drifted fly is a better choice. As the tide started to drop again, the chum packed in and both Jonathan and I went back to indicators and for him the stars aligned and his first fly caught chum became a reality!

Jonathan's first chum!

With another three weeks on the season in the salt water it is definitely looking like its gonna be a fun fishery this year!


Chris S. said...

You are lucky to live in an area with such a diverse population of species!

I may have to come out and investigate sometime. ;)


Gary said...

The offer always stands if you can make it out here and wanna do some investigating!

Gaizka said...

Wonderful fish and near off house, it can manage to be the dream of many.
!!That you enjoy!!