A return of 800,000-plus chum to Puget Sound and Hood Canal will let the good times roll for anglers well into the holiday months.
Chum, better known as dog salmon for their gnarly looking jawline at spawning time, are one of the hardest fighting fish and can feel like a king salmon when hooked on the end of a line.
Those targeting chums will be glad to know that some of the traditional hot spots are giving up some early chums, and it will only get better in the next few weeks as that is the peak time to be out there wetting aline for them in Hood Canal and for chum returning south of Kingston.
Some early chum have already shown up in catches around estuaries off Kennedy Creek in Totten Inlet, Johns Creek in Oakland Bay and the Hoodsport Hatchery in Hood Canal.
Here is a rundown from the creel checks that showed chum in catches:
- Chico Creek estuary in Dyes Inlet — Oct. 14: Three anglers caught no fish; Oct. 15: Two caught no fish; Oct. 17: One caught no fish; Oct. 18: 20 caught two chum; Oct. 19: 18 caught one chum; Oct. 20: 10 caught four chum.
- Curly Creek estuary near South-worth — Oct. 14: Six anglers caught two chum; Oct. 16: Two caught one chum; Oct. 20: Four caught one coho and two chum.
- Hoodsport shoreline, Hood Canal — Oct. 18: Six anglers caught one chum; Oct. 19: 21 caught 12 chum; Oct. 20: 14 caught three chum.
- Hartstene Island shoreline — Oct. 20: One angler caught three chum.
- Johns Creek estuary in Oakland Bay —Oct. 18: 14 anglers caught one chum.
- Tahuya ramp, Hood Canal — Oct. 17: One boats with three anglers caught 12 chum.
- Kennedy Creek estuary in Totten Inlet — Oct. 18: Three anglers caught no fish; Oct. 19: 17 caught seven chum; Oct. 20: Four caught no fish.
Hoodsport fish check:
- November 1 (26 anglers) (26 chum)
- November 2 (57 anglers) (110 chum)
- November 8 (29 anglers) (68 chum)
- November 9 (87 anglers) (210 chum)
Other good places to try for chum are North Bay near Allyn, Perry Creek in Eld Inlet, Whatcom Creek in Bellingham, McLane Creek, Eagle Creek south of Potlatch State Park, and the public-access shores off Highway 101 from Eldon to Hoodsport.
They say that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish. By some accounts it’s more like 26% of the License holders catch upwards of 92% of our fish. Do yourself a favor and take 20 minutes to watch this video. There is a lot of historical info on this new site:
The “Historical Bias” video documents how WDFW has historically awarded 83 percent of salmon available for harvest in the Chehalis Basin to commercial gill netters operating in the Bay and lower portion of the river. In the Willapa estuary, approximately 25 commercial gill net license holders were awarded nearly 91 percent of the available harvest for Chinook, Coho, and Chum.
Winter and Summer Run Steelhead, Chinook, Coho, and Chum Salmon, Sea-Run Cutthroat
Joins the Chehalis River at Elma
Take Highway 8 (U.S.12) from Olympia to Satsop, which is about four miles west of Elma. Turn right (north) onto East Satsop Road and follow it upriver.
Schafer State Park, located on the East Fork Satsop, has tent sites and a few spaces with RV hookups, plus restrooms. Gas, food, lodging, and tackle are available in Elma.
In 2010 there where 58,800 winter-run smolts released on the east fork of the Satsop, they should be returning in the winter of 2012-2013.
Fishing the Satsop:
Fall salmon fishing is now the big draw on the Satsop, but this once-productive steelhead producer is hardly worth the drive for winter-steelhead fishing. Reports show only a few steelhead being caught in the winter. These reports would bring a tear to the eye of fishermen from the 50’s, 60’s, and the 1970’s when this was a top producing steelhead stream with big fish.
As I said, few people bother coming to the Satsop for steelhead now, but hundreds come for the salmon fishing. October can be quite good for the coho, many of the fish in the high teen’s. This river produces the largest silvers I have ever seen, even including Alaska. The 21 pounder that I hooked into at the mouth of Grays Harbor (Labor Day Weekend 2012) was bound for this river, and it would have weighed 23 plus pounds and broken the state record had it been caught in the river in October! The real circus starts when the chum salmon surge into the river from late October into January. Much of the action centered around two or three drifts on the East Fork Satsop, where it isn’t unusual to see a flock of anglers hook several dozen fish in the morning. The crowds make it sort of a combat fishery. Smart anglers fish the lower Satsop from boats.
Winter and Summer Steelhead, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Chum Salmon, Searun Cutthroat, White and Green Sturgeon, Large Mouth Bass
Enters the east end of Grays Harbor
Take I-5 to Grand Mound and turn west on to U.S.12, following the river downstream. Or take Highway 8 west from Olympia and either turn south to follow the Chehalis upstream toward Oakville or continue west to parallel the river downstream to Aberdeen.
Boat ramps are located in Cosmopolis, as well as of Highway 107 just south of Montesano, just upsrteam from the mouth of the Satsop River, at Porter. and at Cedarville.
Fishing the lower Chehalis River:
The Chehalis can be a hot bed for salmon fishing activity. When the runs are booming, boat anglers flock to the popular boat ramp beneath the Highway 107 bridge just south of Montesano and work both upstream and downstream. Trolling with Wiggle Warts, Hot ‘N’ Tots, Hot Shots, Flatfish, Kwikfish and other diving plugs often works best for the Kings. Myself I prefer fishing with a Fish Flash and one ounce of lead with a cut-plug herring alongside the shoreline. Fish tend to stay to the side with the least amount of sunshine. I have marked fish in as little as 2-3 feet of water. Kings in this river can reach up to the 50# mark, with Trophy Coho Salmon heading to the Satsop river, some as big or bigger than 20#. Trolling spinners can work good for the coho action. Bobber and egg clusters too can work further up river. Most of the action takes place in September and October. Chum salmon runs have been on the decline in the last few years. Most of the Chum are bound for the Satsop River. Chums will also hit diving plugs that happen to be in the shade of green or chartruese. Drift fishing with green yarn and a bobber combination will also be effective. Both bank and boat anglers take winter steelhead from the Chehalis, with the best fishing usually occuring from January to March. As with the rivers salmon, many of the steelhead caught here are bound for the river’s two main tributaries, the Satsop and the Wynoochie. Trolling plugs or diver and bait rigs account for most of the action, but plunkers fishing shrimp, roe, and or Spin N Glos from the bank also will take a few fish. There is a targeted amount of Sturgeon fishing on the river. I personally have seen 10-12 footers roll in the rivers mouth. The Chehalis has been stocked with as many as 14,00 Sea-run Cutthroat smolts in the past few years. All wild Cutthroats must be released. Although often overlooked because of many other possibilities, the Lower Chehalis offers some fairly good bass fishing, especially in some of the slow-moving sloughs downstream from Montesano. Largemouths are the main target of anglers efforts, but local rumor has it that some places hold smallmouth too.