Poor Early Chum Run?

Now is the time that early(Sept/Oct) chum runs should be peaking as they stage in estuaries. My fishing buddy and I have been fishing several estuaries with early chum runs for the last 3 weeks and have been catching a few chums. However, this year there don't appear to be very many chum in these estuaries. When boating into these estuaries, we usually see a lot of jumping chums and schools of them finning on the surface. But this year we have only seen the ocassional chum jump or schools finning.

Are the runs late, affected by a 10 year flood event in Dec. 2001, or ocean conditions?

Hopefully, the normal(Nov.) chum runs will not have poor returns.

Thank goodness for SRC as this fisheries has been excellent over the last month.

Roger, I think I saw chums in an estuary on October 4, earlier than I thought, but there weren't many, and I have not been back since to see if they have increased in number, although I bet they have.

I don't know how normal early chum hotspots like Kennedy Creek are doing right now, maybe someone else does?


Be the guide...
I hooked a huge chum on the sky up past the wallace river recently (lost it). But that's the only one i've seen or heard of up there so far.


Active Member
Too early to call for the big chum rivers in the north sound. But the south sound creeks have late summer/early fall runs. if they didn't show up, they ain't comin.
There's a sneaker early chum run on the Sauk, didn't seem to show this year either. My take on N Sound rivers:
Kings: better than expected (finally)
Sockeye: random
Pinks: slow as expected (03 floods)
Silvers: too early to tell, not looking good.
Chum: who knows? bar is low.


Active Member
A factor in your chum fishing in terminal areas is the prices the commerical fishermen are getting for their product. With prices up from recent years expect to see more commerical effort which will translate into less fish to the rivers. The early signs for the run strength are not particularly encouraging however that could change - aren't all fishermen optomists?

My take on the various run strengths to Puget Sound -
Sockeye - while below expected levels perhaps 1/3 of forecasts
Pinks - poor in North Sound (Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish due to the 03 flood?), about as expected on the Snohomish, and off the chart in South Sound Rivers with astounding abundances in the Green and Puyallup.
Chinook - Generally down with most runs 2/3 of expected though there are some bright spots such as the Skagit Summers. They also seemed on the whole to be late.
Coho - Down from recent high abundances. Sizes were mixed with fish both smaller and larger than average with the run entering the Sound inspurts. Expect the total catches and escapement to be below pre-season expectations.
Chums - time will tell thought it didn't seem that I heard much about the early summer chums. I would expect that in-river runs will be below that of recent years (remember that the North Sound Rivers have lower excapement goals during the pink years).

Tight lines


Another Fly Fisher
Smalma said:

(remember that the North Sound Rivers have lower excapement goals during the pink years).

Tight lines
Thanks as always for the good information. Is there an easy answer for why there is lower escapement on humpy years? Competing for the same spawning gravel? More predation attracted?



Active Member
The thinking was that there is food competition for the young fry on the near shore beaches. Both pinks and chum leave their natal streams shortly after hatching and move onto the near shore beaches where they feed before heading out to deeper water and/or out to sea. Obviously in river systems with large populations of both pinks and chum there would be a lot more outmigrating fry following a pink year. This of course assumes no flooding that would effect one species and not the other.

Of course if the even and odd chum goals were similar the average chum runs would be larger (those years with low pink abundacne would allow the chums to fill the susposed void) however the number available for harvest on pink years would be lower over a block of time. The joy of imposing management on natural resources for society's benefit.

Tight lines


Active Member
Smalma- It is interesting that conventional wisdom states that interspecies competition in the nearshore is limiting production of Chum and Pink Salmon, and yet every LFA I have ever read only focuses on freshwater habitats and not marine habitats. Am I missing something?


Active Member
A couple of thoughts regarding LFA's.

Limiting factor analysis are usually species specific and rarely look at the interactions of the various salmonids in detail. The pink/chum situation here in Puget Sound is a little different than most cases as the pinks are only around every other year (the building Snohomish even year pinks an exception). The thinking is that the early pink fry graze down the forage base (near shore in-vertebrae critters) prior to the chums arriving. Thus while the freshwater habitat may limit chum production on the average there may be circumstances were the pink abundance can be a factor.

Because our salmon spend their early life in freshwater (varying lengths of time depending on the species) that is typically the first production bottle neck so is often the focus of LFAs. It is also true that we have a better understanding of the freshwater habitat requirements.

It is only recently that folks have begun to get their arms around the whole issue of near-shore habitats and the fish's needs in that habitat. We are even further from getting a decent grasp on the marine waters off shore.

Tight lines

PS - was redd survey answer on the Tolt discussion adequate?


Active Member
Curt- thank you for your explanation of the reasoning behind past limiting factor analyses...all of that was new information to me. I also appreciated your response regarding the use of redd counts. Your explanation for the variable applicability of their use with different species certainly matches my understanding of the differences in mating behavior between the species. At some point I would enjoy having an expanded discussion on this as well as other population census techniques. Cheers.