The Kilchis Killer
It has been a club tradition the past few years to head to the coast for our November Fish-A-Long. Our target will be Chum Salmon, and it is hoped that by our November 12 outing we will have received enough rain (but hopefully not too much!) to draw these fish into our coastal rivers. The Kilchis River is our normal destination although the Miami River also has a run of chums. Chum salmon are much more plentiful in Washington waters. In fact, the WDFW website has a note indicating that Chum salmon are the most abundant wild salmon species in Washington State.
Chum salmon are sometimes regarded as the “ugly stepsister” of all of the species of Pacific salmon. They can be mint bright while still in the ocean but soon develop darker markings as they prepare to enter freshwater. After entering rivers chums are readily identifiable by their characteristic olive green coloration with purplish vertical striping and blotches along their sides. Chum salmon are sometimes referred to as dog salmon, with research showing two possible origins for that name. One explanation is that name comes from the impressive mouthful of sharp teeth seen in the males as they approach spawning time. A second explanation is that the reference to dog salmon comes from the habit of Native Americans feeding the flesh of the chum salmon to their dogs. Chums are not known for their aerial acrobatics but they fight like bulldogs and are not brought in easily, so don’t go light in selecting your gear.
This month we will be tying up a fly called The Kilchis Killer. Noted Oregon fly fisherman, author, and fly tier John Shewey is credited with coming up with the design for this fly. The name might be a bit of a misnomer, at least for the state of Oregon, as all fishing for chums is strictly catch and release. Just consider it a killer fly for attracting, but not killing the chums. There are many more opportunities for chum salmon in Washington waters so check the regulations if you are heading up there. The fly is normally tied in chartreuse. As Lane Hoffman says, in regard to chum salmon, “it’s no use if it ain’t chartreuse”, regardless of the specific fly pattern. However, many anglers report that if the chums aren’t responding to chartreuse flies it is time to switch to something that is hot pink. So hopefully, we will have both the time and materials to tie up both chartreuse and pink Kilchis Killers. And if something happens with the weather and it messes with the Kilchis Fish-A-Long, all is not lost, as these flies can also be used as terrific steelhead patterns.
Unlike last month’s fly, this one will be suitable for tiers of all levels of experience. Join us at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn on Wednesday, October 26 to tie up some Kilchis Killers. We’ll see you at 6 pm !