Welcome to Salmon University.  Tom Nelson founded Salmon U to provide you with all the information necessary to Catch More Salmon!




Scotty Downriggers
Outdoor Emporium & Sportco
Islands Marine Center
Salmon U Endorsed - Available at Sportco/Outdoor Emporium
FethaStyx Rods
Wooldridge Boats
TICA Rods and Reels
Lucky Sportfishing

British Columbia


Humpy (Pink) Fishing
When a Light Jig is the Right Jig
Pot Fishing for Crab
Early Westport Chinook
What Color for Halibut?
Halibut: Drift or Anchor?
How to Pick the Right Jig!
Pot Fishing for Crab
Sekiu, Memories are Made

Lingcod: Beauty and Beast
Gearing up for Halibut
Eastern Washington Sockeye
Blackmouth Tips and Techniques

Oddball Coho Tactics
Wild and Weedy Willipa
Pink to Silver
A New Spin for Humpies
Jigging for Summer Kings
2011 Summer Salmon Outlook
How to Fillet a Halibut - Video
Bait/Lures for Halibut
Whats the right hook for Halibut
The Importance of Swivels
Hootchie Hookers
Cleaning & Preparing Razor Clams
Mooch, Jig or Troll
Halibut Bait Rigs
Tyee Rowing
The Halibut Seeker
Handy Blackmouth Tips
Saltwater Chum Fishing
Chinook - Timing is Everything
Welcome to Pinkatropolis
Washington Coast Halibut
Shrimping 101
Boating Halibut
Heavy Metal Halibut
Downrigger Tips
Six Tricks for Fall Coho
Buzz Bombing Techniques
New! How to fillet halibut
Rudnick's Halibut Fishing

How to smoke salmon
Smoked salmon recipe #1
Ilwaco & the ocean
Barkley Sound, BC
Deep trolling for Chinook
How to fillet salmon
Reel Maintenance

Fishing with Herring

How to brine herring
Motor Mooching
Using Herring Strips/Teasers
How to rig cutplug herring Herring Rigging
Whole Herring Rigging

Katch Kooler
New Salmon Scenter™
Fishing reports
Win FREE tackle!!

Classroom courses
Courses overview
Classroom courses

Online Resources
Tide predictor
Weather forecasts
Online charts/maps
Fishing derby schedule
Fishing reports
Ask the pros

Photo gallery
Species Info
Contact Us
Contact emails and info
Advertising rates and info

                                    Saltwater Chum Fishing
                            Tom Nelson – Salmon University

The fall runs of Chum salmon start to return in September and by mid-October, literally hundreds of thousands of these salmon will be migrating their way through Puget Sound. While chum are often caught at terminal fisheries on Hood Canal, they are usually ignored by saltwater sports fishermen. Pound for pound they may be the hardest fighting salmon of all five species.

There are two problems with Chum that affect their popularity with sports fishermen. The first is that their taste is entirely different (much milder) than the other species of salmon. The second and possibly the most important reason is that sports fishermen don’t understand how easy Chum are to catch in saltwater.

The freshwater angler has little, if any, problem hooking chum until your arms ache. The saltwater angler faces another problem, the vastness of the area where you will find them. Finding the chums in the first place defines how successful your fishery will be. Chums may be in deep water, but often can be in very shallow shoreline water, thus giving the beach angler and the car-top boater an opportunity for some excellent angling.

Fortunately, schools of chum will show themselves by jumping and splashing. The Chum angler in order to maximize his time on the water should keep a sharp eye out and look for schooling Chum before ever putting a lure in the water. Once located, follow a few simple rules and get ready to hang on.

Rules for saltwater chum fishing:

Rule One: Most chum will be in the top 60 feet of water. Concentrate your fishing there, while paying close attention to the top 30 feet of the water column. The majority of the chum runs return on the west side of Puget Sound.

Rule Two: Slow troll. Troll as slow as possible, and then try to go slower. Dodgers are made to troll slow, so this may be the one time they will out-fish flashers. Normally, in order to fish effectively, flashers need to rotate. For Chum, that is not necessarily so, but sometimes with plastic flashers such as Hot Spots, they are next to impossible to stop rotating.

Description: http://www.salmonuniversity.com/images/tkl_dodger_%232_chrome_280.jpg
#2 chrome dodger

If you are using flashers, try to stay away from glow colors, as Chum are prone to strike anything that is green. They often will grab the flasher, resulting in terrific strikes and no hook-ups.

click on picture to enlarge
Description: http://www.salmonuniversity.com/images/tkl_hot_spot_lg_gold_280.jpg
Large clear/gold flasher

Rule Three: Use lures that appeal to Chum. Chum are for the most part plankton eaters. As they return to spawn, they seem to develop a taste for herring. Chum are also attracted by lures in green, purple, and hot pink colors. The closer they are to their spawning streams, the more likely they are to take herring. Up until then, artificial lures are the most effective.

Since Chum are plankton eaters, small mini squid (usually called Mini Sardines or Michael Bait) are usually the most effective. Add shrimp Smelly Jelly to your squid leader and flasher or dodger.

Chum respond to colors, especially greens, purples and hot pinks. I’ve found the most effective mini squid colors are distributed as Gold Star (Silver Horde) Mini Sardine in the following colors. Green is always a good choice, color number in Mini Sardine is F54R. Purple has become my first choice for Chum, Mini Sardine FG138R. Last, but not least, a Michael Bait in color number MB181. If your tackle box lacks these colors, use green or purple squid and cut the tentacles by half. Rig these Mini Sardines with a 6/0 to 9/0 black or blue hook. These should be fished on a 23" to 26 leader. If you can’t troll slow, lengthen the leader by 6 inches. Ideally, slow troll, Smelly Jelly, Hold On!

Description: http://www.salmonuniversity.com/images/tkl_mini_sardine_f54r_320.jpg
Mini Sardine in F54R color on a 9/0 blue hook

Description: http://www.salmonuniversity.com/images/tkl_mini_sardine_fg138r_320.jpg
Mini Sardine in FG138R color

Description: http://www.salmonuniversity.com/images/tkl_michael_bait_mb181_320.jpg
Michael Bait in MB181 color on an 8/0 blue hook

Moochers can also do well targeting Chum. Moochers should fish the brackish saltwater areas off river mouths.

One of my cohorts at Salmon University usually anchors in 6 to 10 feet of water at the mouth of the Nisqually. He rigs a herring below a dink float with about two to three feet of leader below. He pinches a split shot about a foot above the herring. Cast your herring out, let it drift and don’t spill your Guinness Stout when your rod tip slams down. 

Chum is currently being marketed by the commercial fishing industry under the name of Keta, the Latin name for Chum. Chum is best prepared smoked. To achieve their excellent flavor, take good care of your fish once caught. Bleed your Chum immediately upon catching. Clean and ice down your catch within 15 minutes after netting.

When smoking your catch, two pans of chips is usually enough, then finish your Chum by putting it into your kitchen oven at its lowest setting for two hours. Place a drip pan under the fish as Chum retain a lot of fat. When done, eat, enjoy and tell your friends its Keta.

Good areas to fish for Chum include Point No Point, Jeff Head, Vashon Island, Snohomish River system, Gig Harbor, and the southern river systems such as the Puyallup, Nisqually and Chambers Creek area.