Chum Salmon An Introduction
Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) are also known as dog salmon or Keta salmon and is often marketed under the name Silverbrite salmon.
The name Chum Salmon comes from the Chinook Jargon term tzum, meaning spotted or marked.
The name Dog Salmon does not imply that the fish is a garbage fish though it is not the best tasting salmon.
Features and Size
They have an ocean coloration of silvery blue green but changes when adults are near spawning. They change colour with purple blotchy streaks near the caudal fin.
Unlike other salmon, Chum Salmon do not have any spots. Spawning males typically grow an elongated snout or kype and have enlarged teeth. Some researchers speculate these characteristics are used to compete for mates.
Due to their colour patterns, they are not the most attractive salmon, especially the spawning Chums. At first glance, they almost look diseased.
But keep in mind, that once you get past the look of this fish, you will delight in its fighting ability.
The Chum Salmon has a rather large native distribution, much greater than many other salmon. It is obvious that this fish does not get by on looks alone.
As you can see by the image above, the Chum Salmon is found from the coast of California all the way up to Alaska, across to Russia, down to Japan and into China. It can also be found in Arctic rivers of Canada, the US and Russia.
Poor Table Fare
Chum salmon have the lowest flesh quality of the five Pacific salmon species. They are still popular with commercial fishing and many anglers. Their flesh quality is best when caught in the ocean and their skin is deemed ocean bright.
Chum salmon mature very quickly. As they are ready for spawning, their flesh quality deteriorates rapidly.
Therefore, the best way to eat them when caught in rivers and when they are spanwing is to smoke them and prepare them kipper style.