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Swinging with spey rods for chum salmon

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Everyone seems to be on a quest for the “best” of something in the fishing world: the best rod, the best reel, the best line, or the best rive. Whenever someone uses the cliche word “best” with anything related to fishing I immediately tune out.  

The Qualifier

The other day, a guest asked one of the most well-informed  fishing questions I’ve ever heard. Usually, people ask the question: “What’s the best river to catch a steelhead on, or when is the best time to come steelhead fishing?” Well, there really is no answer for those; it varies way too much. Magazines keep pumping out their lists of the best, and the top 10 but this is complete fluff.  

But this time, the guy asked, “What do you think is the best place for my family to try spey fishing” Now we’re getting somewhere! This person really wanted to get his wife and kids into spey fishing and wanted them to catch fish. I gave my opinion that I don’t think it’s best to start with steelhead when getting someone into spey fishing. 

There is no doubt in my mind the best fish to get after when learning spey fishing is chum.  They swim up some incredibly  scenic rivers in good numbers and they are aggressive to a swung fly.  Chum are ferocious by nature and in BC they are absolutely huge.  Average size of chum in northern BC far outweigh there counterparts in Alaska and most other places in the world.  Anyone who hooks a BC chum for the first time is usually shocked by the strength and violence of the fight that follows, especially if it involves a large male. 

The other huge bonus is the weather. In northern BC, Chum fishing tends to happen during the best weather window of our summers. They are wedged in between the early King salmon run and the late coho run.  

Anglers who have never considered fishing for chums are often attracted by stories of fish that were downright evil on the end of a line. However not all chums are created equal. The record for a chum salmon is the ungodly weight of 42 lbs and was caught in British Columbia.  They will test your gear like nothing else. Blown up reels, broken lines, tattered fingers are all quick evidence you have been chum fishing.  There is no question that if you want to turn someone onto spey fishing, you should find the most beautiful, scenic river with chum.  I can guarantee, if you bring someone who is keen to catch some huge, strong fighting salmon, they will have one hell of a time on our scenic coastal rivers of northern BC chasing chum salmon on the fly. 

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