For the past few years our usual November Fish-A-Long venue has suffered from too little water, or too much water, and the event had to be canceled. This year our President Dave Kilhefner is optimistic that the conditions are shaping up nicely for an outing on Saturday, November 13th near Tillamook for Chum Salmon. The Kilchis River is our normal destination, although the Miami River also has a run of chums. If you have some extra time this month there are many more opportunities to catch chum salmon in Washington waters. Be sure to check out the Washington regulations if you plan to head up there.
Chum salmon are sometimes regarded as the “ugly stepsister” of all of the species of Pacific salmon. They can be chrome bright while still in the ocean but soon begin to develop characteristic markings as they prepare to enter freshwater. After entering rivers chum salmon 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. And because of the imposing teeth, it would be a good idea to carry a quality pair of pliers.
One fly that has been shown to be very effective for chum salmon is The Kilchis Killer. Noted Oregon fly fisherman, author, and fly tyer John Shewey is credited with coming up with the design for this fly. The name of the fly 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 the chums. The fly is normally tied in chartreuse. As Club member Lane Hoffman says, in regard to chum salmon, “it’s no use if it ain’t chartreuse”, regardless of the specific fly pattern you tie on. 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.
The Kilchis Killer is a relatively easy fly to tie and should be no problem for tyers of all levels of experience.
Hook: Heavy wire, size 2-6
Tail: Krystal Flash (chartreuse or pink)
Body: 1/2 Floss (chartreuse or pink), 1/2 Cactus Chenille (chartreuse or pink)
Wing: Krystal Flash (chartreuse or pink)
Collar: Hackle (Saddle or Schlappen; chartreuse or pink)
1. Lay down a base of thread wraps. (Now is the time to attach any weight, if desired.)
2. Add a tail of krystal flash.
3. Attach a piece of floss at the base of the tail. Wind the bobbin forward.
4. Wind the rear half of the body evenly with floss. Tie down the floss with thread at the midpoint of the hook shank.
5. Attach a piece of cactus chenille at the front of the floss. Wind the bobbin forward.
6. Wind the front half of the body with the cactus chenille. (Don’t crowd the front of the fly. Leave room for the wing, hackle, and thread head.) Anchor the cactus chenille with thread wraps.
7. Attach a clump of krystal flash in front of the cactus chenille, angling it back at about a 45 degree angle for the wing.
8. Attach a hackle feather at the base of the wing.
9. Wind the hackle forward, making each wrap just in front of the last one. Anchor the front of the hackle with thread wraps.
10. Form a head with thread wraps, whip finish, and add head cement.
Good luck fishing! This has historically been one of the club’s more popular trips. If the weather and river conditions cooperate, this is one Fish-A-Long where you really have a shot at catching a big fish!