We’re about halfway through our first day fishing southwestern BC’s Squamish River. It’s mid-November and we’re targeting the run of Chum Salmon. Yos Gladstone, owner of Chromer Sport Fishing, is our guide. Austin Heffelfinger is along to shoot photos. Karlie is a guide at Emerald Water Anglers in Seattle, WA. She brought her black lab Griz. This is her first time fishing the Squamish and her first time fishing for Chum. After a slow morning, we start getting into them after lunch. Before long blood is spilled.
Karlie is dipping her hand, rod handle and reel in the river to rinse the blood away while Griz is inspecting a rotting Chum carcass on the bank. It’s a surprisingly-gory scene. Karlie’s wound is a result of a few different Chum pulling hard enough to catch Karlie off-guard. With line zipping out of her reel she attempted to slow the fish, only to get her thumb nail ripped in half by the spinning spool. Between expletives, Karlie admits that she didn’t expect Chum fishing to be so challenging.
“Honestly, I’ve just never thought to target them,” she says.
Chum get a bad rap. A friend of mine describes them as, “The Rodney Dangerfield of Salmon.” And while, I’m not exactly sure how to interpret the analogy, I’m pretty sure I know what he means. Remember Rodney’s catchphrase, “I get no respect.” That could sum it up. Chum aren’t exactly easy on the eyes, especially in their last days of life. Spend any amount of time on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest in the fall and you’re bound to trip over a rotten Chum. The banks are literally littered with dead fish. The rivers in this part of the world are a veritable Bald Eagle buffet during the Chum runs. Ornithologists take note: Want to see some Baldies? Follow these fish. And while they may not get much respect in the fly fishing world, Chum are essential.
LINK (via: The Flyfish Journal) Words and video by Liam Gallagher