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!