: In praise of the "lowly" chum
Duggan's post reminds me of my love affair with the Rodney Dangerfield of the oncho clan... the "lowly" chum. Put side by side with the sleek lines of a summer steelhead, or the ghostly chrome clad shouldery bulk of a winter native steelie - they are grotesque. Seen finning next to a mint-bright late run coho in the Satsop, they are coarse. When compared to a king in it's purple hued leopard spotted ocean prime, it's a boot. Heck people don't even smoke them!
Nonetheless, I love chum. I do because I grew up doing nothing during my 'tween season doldrums. They take flies readily when aggresive or undisturbed and are great sport on a fly rod. Let's put it this way, if there were only chum in some other part of the world, no steelies, no kings, sockeye or coho, no atlantics, no seatrout... then the under-appreciated chum would be all the rage. There would be a 'chum' economy and chum flies, chum saloons and a chum days festival. The sportsman who caught the only bright one of the year would win a new 11 weight ugly stick for his trouble, and runner-up prizes would go to anyone who caught one with it's tail intact. The Miss Chum beauty pageant would be won by a girl with crooked buckteeth and chronic acne. The chum eating contest would be won by the sled-dog that ate the most chum while their owners competed with blackberry pies as edible substitutes.
<b>I jest!</b> This time of year the chum are still strong, clean and spectacular sport. They will move for a fly and fight like the dickens. Yes it's true that my deepest passion lies for steelhead; the stately lines of a massive striped bass; the bullet taper of a bonefish, or the crazed leaps of an ocean caught coho. The Ponoi calls to me to experience the untamed atlantic salmon fishing, as does the Gaspe, etc. But just as bluegills and largemouth bass were the mainstay of my fishing education, the chum salmon has kept me sated for many days when there are few hours of fishing to be had. Call me naive, but when I was a young parent I'd take a few hours on the river away from changing diapers, land 9 or 10 hot dawgs on the fly rod, and be back with an espresso drink for my wife before breakfast was started. Who lives like that?
Wife's taking the kids to a movie? What the heck, down to the river for a few more epic battles with a not-so-epic fish, at least as far as reputation goes. But this bad reputation never tainted my appreciation for chums. Call me easy, but a spankin' is a spankin'.
Tis' the season. I hereby raise my glass of <i>Dewars</i> to the "lowly" chum! http://126.96.36.199/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif
10-28-2000, 01:52 PM
I could not agree more. I gladly spend most of my year chasing steelhead with the reward found in the chase more often than the capture. I do not complain because just the chance to cast a long line on a brisk morning with the off chance of a steelhead hookup is one of lifes greatest pleasures. Throw in scenic vistas and good friends and it leaves no room for complaints. There is never the expectation of landing fish though. If you cast a flyrod for steelhead expecting to catch fish, you will not long stick with the sport.
One or twice a year though it is nice to go out and expect to get your butt kicked by a big fish. For this reason, every fall I start looking forward to the arrival of the chums. I have had large Skykomish bucks take me deep into my backing as they left Thunderbird without even slowing before breaking me off 100 yds downriver. I have also been towed around Hood Canal in my tube by a hot fish determined to avoid capture. I love them. Yes they are ugly and most not worth even a trip to the smoker, but damn can they fight. And I can't think of anything as fun as stalking and sight casting from the float tube to roving pods whose large dorsals betray their location. As I type this I can feel the sore right arm from leaning into 20 or more hookups yesterday.
This morning I dropped by the local liquor store to pick up a fifth of single malt for the coming week's four day trip to the canal. When the rains fall, the wind blows and the chop starts to bounce your tube around, a nip or two off the flask has amazing medicinal qualities. All that and it is bladder friendly because after all, it can be a long kick to the beach and the porta-let :)
Off to walk the "dog" ---
Can't agree more about the single malts. I jested with "Dewars" on the above post because like the chum it's not Double Wood Balvenie or an aged Macallan or <your favorite here>... but is still scotch. Tried to make an analogy between the two, might have been a stretch. To tell the truth, I don't even drink Dewars! I am fond of the Highland malts and some of the Islay's but am not a Laphroaig man. I am far from being a single malt expert but have sampled quite a few.
Pete L. from Calgary got me hooked on the Double Wood Balvenie, and my brother treated me to a fifth of the sherrywood (or was it portwood)Glenmorangie last year, both good to the last drop. I still like the caramelly Glenlivet but the GlenFidditch is a bit peppery for my tastes. I like Oban, Macallan, Glenmorangie, and have enjoyed a whole bunch more I can't pronounce when I was traveling a lot on business with an expense account http://188.8.131.52/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif
Bunnahabbin is my favorite Islay malt, not too peaty.
That round off the flask on the Skykomish during the last spring native clave was among the best I've tasted (and felt) in all my scotch sipping adventures.
What was that, by the way?
10-29-2000, 12:32 PM
You have just given me some great single malt leads. I've got a vendor funded dinner coming up in a couple of weeks and I will have to "sample" some of the malts you listed. I'm a relative novice on single malts as I've only been sampling for a couple of years and then infrequently. So far my favorites would be the Ledaig 20, Lagavulin and the McCallan 18. I'm not a big fan of the McCallan 12 however. My tastes run to the highland malts and speysides. Some others that I have found pleasurable have been the Oban, Craganmore, Highland Park and Glen Kynchie. I will have to try out the Doublewood Balvenie as it sounds wonderful.
I picked up on the Dewars comment and agree that Chum probably don't warrant a good scotch. With that in mind, I picked up a bottle of Speyburn for next weeks dog fest. Its a very servicable single malt that doesn't break the bank.
Have to chime in on the Speyburn...
The name got my attention, the price sent me to the counter with a bottle, and the all around drinkability will have me coming back for another. The best $20 I ever spent. It's not Sheep Dip, but for the money, it doesn't have to be.
Unlike Juro, I do love the 40 year Laphroaig. Juro, bars quite typically water it down and I have to agree that the taste really suffers as a result. If you haven't tried it straight out of the bottle, you might want to give it a second chance.
BTW, chum salmon sound like the freshwater equivalent to Hickory shad. You won't win prestige for catching them, but they sure are a heck of a lot of fun to chase.
Good grief. This is becoming a board of clones.
How 'bout assigning Chums a more fitting elixir and leave the single malts for steelhead, coho and Atlantics? I propose the true potable for chums be Rum! Dark, strong, with 150 proof authority. Very analogous to our beloved canine-studded aggressor of the rain-swollen freshets.
I started fishing for chums down here in Tillamook about 20 years ago, when the word was (promulgated by the self-serving interests of commercial fishermen, no doubt) that they wouldn't bite in fresh water. One day, while trying for early steelhead, I hooked about twenty of the things, one right after the other, and had an absolute ball doing so. These fish, given the fact they didn't bite, seemed remarkably adept at getting themselves snagged in the snoot and certainly caused a commotion when they did. I remember cursing the sun as it set because it marked the end of one of the most enjoyable fishing days I have ever had.
There are a couple of little rivers here with chum runs and it's always fun to poke along these streams when the fish are in and survey anglers for broken rods. This seems a hallmark of the chum--I don't know how many broken rods I come across (broke a 10 wt Sage of mine twice on these things), but there have been plenty.
In regards bright and the fish's table qualities: in Tillamook, when they come in on the tide, they are still bright. Females particularly are silver, but fade very quickly. I've caught bright males, but never with good numbers of scales still attached. The brightest males I catch typically have that black line and side bars already showing, but I think these are better table fish that the brighter females, which seem to go mushy in a hurry.
Several of my friends find chums great for steaking and barbecuing. I like to smoke them, because the have so little fat and keep forever. Friends I send smoked chum to seem to like it, although I stopped killing them years ago when our streams went to catch and release.
so join me shipmates, we'll break into the barrel, and hoist a toast of Nelson's Blood to the piratical Chum
I suspect I've subconsciously cloned a chum salmon equal rights plea from the memory of the many you've articulated in the past... hopefully I didn't use the same title as one of your posts but thinking back it does have a familiar ring to it! dOh! Oh well, I find it harder to keep track each year - blame it on shades of early of alzheimers. http://184.108.40.206/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif
You've encountered chum in Alaska as well as the mainland... I've heard that chum vary radically in average size from region to region - do you find this to be true?
11-17-2000, 07:38 PM
Damn! Will someone please tell Juro the name of the scotch in the flask on the Sky? If it was one of the best he tasted, I want some. http://220.127.116.11/images/flytalk/Happy.gif
11-18-2000, 10:17 AM
You will have to check with Kush to make sure but if memory serves me, it was the 18 y.o. McCallan.