Chum

Chum, also called "dog salmon," are the second largest of the Pacific Salmon. They are usually found in watersheds closer to the salt water, and not in waterways far inland.

Oncorhynchus keta

Identification Characteristics:

  • No distinct black spots on back or caudal fins
  • Males are dark blue above with reddish-purple vertical markings and well developed teeth
  • Females less colorful, often with horizontal bar along sides
  • Lower gum line is black
  • Range in length from 30-42 inches

Chum and pink salmon use the streams the least amount of time. Both chum and pink salmon have similar habitat needs such as unimpeded access to spawning habitat, a stable incubation environment, favorable downstream migration conditions (adequate flows in the spring), and because they rely heavily on the estuary for growth, good estuary habitat is essential. 

In Washington, adult chum salmon (3-5 years old) have three major run types, although in the Coast Region only Fall Chum are present. Elsewhere, summer chum adults enter the rivers in August and September, and spawn in September and October. Fall chum adults enter the rivers in late October through November, and spawn in November and December. Winter chum adults enter from December through January and spawn from January through February. Chum salmon fry emerge from the nests in March and April, and quickly outmigrate to the estuary for rearing. In the estuary, juvenile chum follow prey availability. In Hood Canal, juveniles that arrive in the estuary in February and March migrate rapidly offshore. This migration rate decreases in May and June as levels of zooplankton increase. Later as the food supply dwindles, chum move offshore and switch diets (Simenstad and Salo 1982).

Photos from Inland Fishes of Washington by Whitney and Wydoski, © 1979 University of Washington Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Washington Press.