Most of the time, but not always, Chum Salmon spawn in the lowermost reaches of rivers and streams, which is usually within the first 60 miles/100 km of the ocean. Spawning sites are often near springs. However, some Chum Salmon will migrate as far inland as several thousand miles.

As soon as the young fry hatch, they make their way to the estuarine and ocean waters, in contrast to other Pacific salmonids that may spend up to two years in the rivers of their birth before migrating to the ocean.

Some species even migrate to the estuary, spending some time there before heading into the ocean.

As such, the habitat for fresh water is not nearly as imporant to Chum Salmon as it is to other salmon species.

Columbia Critical Habitat

On September 2, 2005, the Columbia was designated as critical habitat for the threatened Columbia River ESU and Hood Canal Summer-run ESU.

Spawning Habitat

As mentioned above, most Chum Salmon spawn in coastal rivers. Exceptions to this occur in the Yukon River and Mackenzie River in Canada and the Amur River in Russia. These Chum travel an amazing several thousand miles to migrate.

In summer, Chum Salmon spawn in shallow, clear, cold tributaries of the lower Yukon River whereas fall Chum Salmon select spawning streams in the upper Yukon River drainage with springs or groundwater seepages.

Females Dig the Redd (Nest)

Unlike other freshwater sport fish, including the smallmouth bass and largemouth bass, the female Chum Salmon is responsible for digging the redd.

The redd, or nest, is a hollowed out part of the river bed cleared by thrashing around to remove rocks and garvel. The eggs are then deposited in the stream gravel in the redd.

The freshly hatched Chum Salmon alevin remain in the gravel until the yolk sac is absorbed. This can take between 60 to 90 days for the yolk sac to completely disappear.

Smolt Chum Salmon Habitat

Chum Salmon smolts remain in river estuaries for several months before making their way into the stream to spend the better part of their lives. Fall and winter are usually underway before they make it to the ocean.

Ocean Chum Salmon Habitat

Most Arctic-based Chum Salmon stay at sea for two to five years before migrating inland to spawn. They feed near the water’s surface at night and range down as far as 60 meters/190 feet during the day.