Chum Salmon return to Vancouver area with a vengeance and destroy flies!
In keeping with the great returns of Pink and Coho salmon to the Fraser river valley and Squamish river valley near Vancouver, British Columbia, the Chum’s might have come in first place this season! Massive returns of Chum salmon started in late September and continue to this day(November 13). It looks like a record return for southern BC.
This bodes well for the fly fisher until the end of November when finally the last of the Chum warriors return from the Pacific ocean to once again lay eggs to keep this miraculous life cycle going for another year. Chum’s are brutally tough fish and thankfully aggressive! It’s common to hook into dozens of fish per day on the fly and end up with sore arms at the end of the day. A battle with your average size fish of 12-15 lbs can last 5-10 minutes and if you hook into one of the 20+ lber’s look out!
Do Chum’s take a fly or do they actually bite them?
Many anglers will try and tell you that those fly fishers are flossing Chum’s and that they don’t bite. Nonsense! and I will tell you why this is not so. I fish jigs dead drifted under a float for Chum’s and many will tell you that is the most effective way to get hookups and I will agree. So we know they bite and that they rise from the bottom to hammer that jig, so why wouldn’t they target your fly? Here’s the problem: many fly fishers will use a sinktip line and actually drag or swing the fly through holding fish and get hookups by way of flossing(always the outside corner of the mouth) or hooking the dorsal or tail fin or even the underside far too often. Nothing is worse than fighting a foul hooked angry Chum. If your not skilled and quick you could lose all your line and bust your rod!
So we dropped the sinking tip line and went straight floating line with leader lengths that would keep the fly above holding fish, ensuring that only more aggressive fish would strike. I have fished leader lengths as short as 3 ft and hammered fish. It works and we love this method. Many fish actually have the fly deep within the mouth or right on the ‘beak’. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Fooling the fish! not hooking them accidentally.
Equipment choice needs to be solid. My personal Chum fly fishing rod is a G. Loomis 10 ft 10 weight swithch rod that I had custom made back in the mid 90’s. It’s a solid rod that uses the ultra reliable IM6 blank. A good reel with a smooth but tough drag system is a must. There are lots of good reels out there, I will review some down the road but not today. Make sure you have minimum 15 lb leader, I use 20lb flourocarbon or Maxima Ultra Green in most river conditions where ‘the swing’ is the preferred method.
Cum Flies: Go Bright!
Over the years we have found that Chums love Pink, Purple, Blue and Green. I do very well with Pink and Blue or Pink and Purple. There are many new materials out there and a real hot one is the UV crystal chenilles. I add that stuff to lots of patterns and fish really do love it! When fishing a floating line only, remember that you will need your fly weighted either with a bead head, cone or dumbell eyes. I tie in a loop on many of my patterns so that a ‘stinger hook’ can be added right at the tail of the fly ensuring more hookups. I will be tying more flies and heading to the river on another guided fly fishing trip in our Wild Salmon paradise!
Brian Mack @ Silversides Fishing Adventures