Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Keta, Chum, Dog - Call Them What You Want, But Treat Them With Respect!

Since I moved to Portland, I have made an annual Chum salmon fishing trip to see what the fishery is all about. Fishing for Chum has a mixed reputation of being a wonderful catch and release fishery, and is also known as a snagger/ trampled spawning redd fishery. Unfortunately, the fly fishers have gained a bad reputation for being the worst snaggers, and also for walking all over spawning redds to get that trophy pic of a large fish with the fly rod. So, I take it upon myself every season to see what is going on, and maybe to be able to educate the ignorant anglers about the potential damage and harassment they are causing.
Orvis Helios2 11' 8wt Switch Rod & Mirage V reel being battle tested by a large Chum Salmon
The flip side to the fishery is that there are a bunch of good river stewards who take it upon themselves to be the "watch dogs" over those gnarly spawning dog salmon. I know when I am there, I have seen some action from anglers that has literally made my blood boil. The funny thing is how people lose there ethics so fast when there is a pile of large fish in front of them; especially the fly anglers. It seems that a fly angler will sink to the lowest level when there are large fish around them, especially when  catching them happens to take some skill. This is when the snagging factor can start to happen. Chums are known as very aggressive fish; so lots of fly guys perceive that as a fish that will climb on a swung wet fly. That may be true for Chums out in the bays and tidewater, but in a crystal clear river with really low water with anglers around, the Chums become very wary. 
Mean teeth and wild colors are the tell tale sign of a Chum Salmon
When I had my recent outing, I had a really wonderful day, but there was one episode that my wife and I experienced that supported the bad reputation of the fly fishers fishing the catch & release Chum fishery. We had been fishing in solitude for a few hours, and we had tied into several fish that we fought, caught, admired, and released. Nikki noticed that three cars had just parked behind her car, and she expressed worry about the anglers invading into our peaceful solitude with the two holes that we fished loaded with piles of salty fresh Chums. I passed off her worry figuring nobody would even think to pry into our area, and especially the approximate 10 anglers that emptied out of the cars. Well it turned out to be that Nikki's worries were legit, as the anglers started to trample down the river, stepping all over the spawning redds, and moving and scaring fish all over the place.
This colored up chum had lots of sea lice behind its dorsal fin indicating these fish often mature in tidewater
When they got closer to us, I could not believe that they were still coming and heading right to us. They literally got about 15 feet above me, and started to wade out halfway across the river, and I noticed all of the fish in the spot I was fishing were frantically feeling the harassment of these fly guys. They then asked me how I was doing as far as catching goes, and I unleashed my frustration on them. I yelled, "Can you please stop messing up the pool I am fishing; since you have basically spooked all of the fish out of the pool! You are walking all over the spawning redds; so walk on the land and not through the river on the clean humps of gravel."

They then apologized, and backed up, and proceed to walk too close to my wife in the pool she was fishing. If they pushed her out of the pool, I would have really came unglued, but they moved on and kept on going down river. After a while you could tell that they likely were talked to again by the next batch of anglers a quarter of a mile or so downriver, because they eventually walked back upstream and by us. This time walking way back in the brush. SEE, THEY LEARNED!!!! I often wonder about my moments when I have had to talk with anglers about unethical actions, but I take my fish very seriously, and I want to have these resources for future generations to come.
Admiring this powerful Chum Salmon before sending it off to continue its mission
When reading about the Chum fishery you often get anglers saying to stay away from it, and never fish for these endangered fish. My feeling is mixed because for one thing you can see how the fishery really is when you are out there. You are not speculating about it, and you are actually experiencing it. Also, if there are not people with good ethics out there, then what would the people with poor ethics be doing out there? It is important to have river stewards out there protecting our fisheries and educating others how to act when experiencing these fisheries. It means a lot more to pull a fair hooked fish from a deep green ambiguous pool then to beat up on a moldy Chum salmon spawning/rolling around in the pea gravel; only to hook it in the tail. Behave when you see fish on redds, and treat these fish like gold. This way we can able our future generations to experience what we do now. After you catch a few, appreciate it, and take off with good memories of your day. Don't worry about having to post a Facebook Pic with your fly rod and big fish. Not that I am against pics, but worry about that after your hard fighting Chum yields to you, and it is in a safe spot for a quick pic. Then let it swim off to continue it mission to spawn to make more for the future! Enjoy this resource and respect the Chums!!!

Tight Lines to All!!! 

1 comment:

  1. Hey I just found your blog a while back and I am really enjoying reading about all the different kinds of fishing experience you are having. I am jealous. I am from Utah so it is mostly trout fly fishing. I wanted to ask your advice, I am coming up for Thanksgiving to visit my brother and plan on taking him out fly fishing. He is new to the sport and I have done a lot of fly fishign in Utah. I am seeking any advice you might be willing to part with. I will be in Newberg, OR for Thanksgiving. Is Trout fishing good? What about Chum salmon? I really enjoyed this article. If you could share your knowledge with me that would be great. Thank you.