Chums 101 [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Chums 101

10-30-2001, 02:16 AM
They have arrived, not in any huges numbers, but everyday I hear of more and more being caught and anyday now they should be holding in the reachable water of the middle Sky and in a couple weeks they should be available off the bars on the Skagit.

I've had fair luck but it seems that everyone I talk to has their favorite flies, favorite tpyes of water and favorite techniques.

Ive heard that the best water to fish for them in is in your typical steelhead inside seam holding water and others I talk to and even other people will tell you the best water is shallow riffles (spawners?). And then I have heard that the best flies are big ugly weighted leach patterns to small tiny unweighted bugs.

Ive always done best in deep, heavy 'nook water and in just deep, slow coho type pools fishing pink leaches under an indicator. ;)

Any opinions (on the chums, not my technique :D )??

10-30-2001, 10:07 AM
Check your regs this year before going after chums. I believe some of the traditional chum spots on the Skagit are closed.

I aslo heard of a few steelhead hatch brats being caught in the Skagit.

Rumor has it we will see a c&r season on the Sauk/Skagit this spring. Although slightly different than in past years.

Man, I'm getting antsy for the tug of a Skagit winter run.

10-30-2001, 11:34 AM
Hallowe'en is the traditional first appearance date for chums in the Tillamook streams. Analogous, I guess, to the return of swallows to Capistrano. More to the point, though, are the big tides that typcially occur around the first of November.

Anyway, we've had some good, soaking rain the last few days and the Miami, Kilchis, and Wilson should be primed for the annual dog infusion.

Down here, it seems the fresh fish hang out in the deeper pools and slower water, while those closer to spawning move onto the riffles. If it seems like a likely spot for winter steelhead, it's a likely spot for chums.

We've had good luck with chartreuse, as well as fuchsia, colored flies. I seems as though anything bright, fished near the bottom, gets some attention. I haven't checked the regs yet, but in the past the Tillamook chum fishery has been all catch-and-release, with even that season closing November 15.

Great entertainment and warm up for winter steelhead.


10-30-2001, 02:42 PM
Ryan -

I loved chasing chum after a morning of steelheading. In fact, some mornings I would just go after chum to squeeze in a few classic salmon battles before work.

Because I really wouldn't drive far to chase them, most of my chummin' was in the Green near where I lived or in rivers where the steelhead didn't cooperate. For a huge number of big chum and a few steelhead in the tailouts and rapids, try Metzler Park. They stack like crazy and hit flies readily there. No indicator required, just a nice slow swing.

At the most I'd use a light tip (short type II) but in it's not 100% necessary. In fact one day I took the brother of a famous steely photographer down there with his 5wt and a floating line. He promptly hooked and landed a 15 pound buck. Well, it wasn't promptly... in fact that fish took him all over the run!

To flyfishing at Metzler go when the river levels let you cross over. Walk upstream and cross above the big pool, just downstream from Newaukum Creek. There are steelies holding there too, particularly on the tail out and at the head of the chute. From the far side, the whole pool is available to a swung fly and the fish on the perimeter of the deep pool are willing takers.

Another spot that is really good for flyfishing is the gravel shoal at the site of the old flaming geyser bridge. You can use a floating line there when they get on the grab. I've hooked and landed 9 big chum there in a row when they get on the grab. Others along the grass bank leading down to the new bridge were foul hooking them with gear and not landing them, busted rods common. I stood at the head of the run, swung a fly down the seam and they would snarf it down sometimes with a big swirl. Rarely had to chase them because they every single one was hooked in the mouth. I stuck with 15# maxima leader though.

Fall City and the lower Snoqualmie are great too. Wynochee is a good spot because you can fish for the strong summer run of steelies in the upper river with a fallback plan down at the crossover bridge pool. I guess there are a million spots to swing a fly over 'dem dawgs.

Flies I've done well with are marabou winged wet flies, of course chartreuse and hot pink when everyone else is throwing green try the hot pink! That day I banged 9 in a row in the mouth in Geyser park was with a matuka bunny tied hot pink over white chenille. Chart green winged dark wet flies have done well too.

That salter fishery sounds like a kick! BTW - I've caught big chrome chum at Bush Pt tight to shore... butt kickers in the salt.

10-30-2001, 03:14 PM
I usually target chums in the salt but it can be tough to find an area where you are not fishing with everyone and their uncle.But I feel they fight a little better while still in the salt and they are not quite as ugly. Minter creek is going to be open this year done by purdy and I think I am going to check it out as I think the pressure should be a little less than hoodsport.

As for flies i use the same ones in the fresh and salt water.

Chum candy tied in pink and chartreuse works well and i have had a steelhead hit one so it is a good double purpose fly:

also this fly:

works well and is easy to tie.

In an estuary situation just get the fly out there and short 6 inch strips have worked for me. Sometimes you need to modify the retrive a little.

In rivers I have found them mainly in slower pools along the sides and a short 1-2 inch retrieve in front of thier snouts has worked for me. I see some guys fishing the shallow riffles for the chum but in my opinion it is too easy to snag them and they could be spawners.

hope this helps,


10-30-2001, 03:42 PM

I treasure my time chasing Chum in the salt every fall. Nothing like a big buck Chum towing you around in the old float tube. I have also targeted them with success in the rivers but not for a year or two.

Often times you can catch them staging in pools before moving onto the redds. This is especially effective in clear water. When this happens, it can be almost like bonefishing as you can pick out a cruising fish and cast to it. For this action, I favor smaller flies (size 4 or 6) in purple or chartuese.

I have also had success fishing the soft seams on the edge of faster water. As you mentioned above, this is the same water you fish hard for steelhead. Depending on water clarity, and I mostly focus here when you have 3' or less, the old low and slow works great. Big marabous here have seemed to pay off with hot orange having yielded some vicious grabs in the past.

I remember the day before Thanksgiving two years ago where I hit a fish half way down the rock island above IRS and fish didn't even hesitate leaving the run at Mach 2. He was almost to the top of IRS when the 15# Maxima parted with the hook. Wow, what a rush!


10-30-2001, 04:20 PM
This just in from a semi-reliable source. I'm passing this on before verification because I hope it's true:

Word is that a 35 and a 38 pound chum have been landed on a river south of their reported range (We're still talking Oregon, though). This is an exciting rumor.

I'll post again if there is any basis in fact. Meanwhile, hope springs....

10-31-2001, 12:24 AM
You guys got me stoked!! Hopefully all this info will lead to more chums to the bank this year then in the past. :)

10-31-2001, 10:47 AM
Finally tracked down the source of the rumor. Wish this were April 1 and not Hallowe'en. Anyway, absolutely no truth to the report of giant chum landed on a mid-coast Oregon stream.

Another dream shattered.

If the rain lets up a bit by Thursday, the streams should be in great shape for the weekend.

Go get 'em.