Species Management Plan
Chum salmon are the most abundant wild salmon species in Washington State, and at the same time are probably
the least appreciated of the state's salmon. Chum salmon have many admirable attributes, not the least of
which is the fact that this species has shown remarkable resilience during a period when other salmon species
have shown substantial declines.
The current distribution of chum salmon spans most of western Washington, including Puget Sound, the coast, and
several lower Columbia River streams. The chum stocks of these three regions represent genetically distinct
population groupings and are managed separately.
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Chum (Dog) Salmon
Other names: dog salmon, calico
Average size: 10-15 lbs, up to 33 lbs
Male chum salmon develop large "teeth" during spawning, which resemble canine teeth. This may
explain the nickname dog salmon.
Chum use small coastal streams and the lower reaches of larger rivers for their spawning grounds. They
often use the same streams as coho, but coho tend to move further up the watershed and chum
generally spawn closer to saltwater. This may be due to their larger size, which requires
deeper water to swim in; or their jumping ability, which is inferior to coho. Either way, the
result is a watershed divided between the two species, with all the niches filled.
Like coho, chum can be found in virtually every small coastal stream. In the fall, large numbers of
chum can often be seen in the lower reaches of these streams, providing opportunities to view wild
salmon in a natural environment.
Chum fry do not rear in freshwater for more than a few days. Shortly after they emerge, chum fry
move downstream to the estuary and rear there for several months before heading out to the
- Mouth is white with a white gum line
- Well developed teeth
- No spots on tail or back
- Calico markings (vertical bars) - faint on bright fish
- Narrow caudal peduncle
- White tip on anal fin
The mouth is white and the gum line is white, but the tongue may be black. The lips
are fleshy with well developed teeth in both jaws, but there are no teeth on the
base of the tongue.
The tail has no spots, but does have silver streaks covering about half of the fin.
The caudal peduncle is narrow.
Alevin - The lifestage of a salmonid between egg and fry. An alevin looks like a
fish with a huge pot belly, which is the remaining egg sac. Alevin remain protected in
the gravel riverbed, obtaining nutrition from the egg sac until they are large enough to
fend for themselves in the stream.
Anadromous - Fish that live part or the majority of their lives in saltwater,
but return to freshwater to spawn.
Emergence - The act of salmon fry leaving the gravel nest.
Fry - A juvenile salmonid that has absorbed its egg sac and is rearing in the stream;
the stage of development between an alevin and a parr.
Kype - The hooked jaw many male salmon develop during spawning.
Parr - Also known as fingerling. A large juvenile salmonid, one between a
fry and a smolt.
Smolt - A juvenile salmonid which has reared in-stream and is preparing
to enter the ocean. Smolts exchange the spotted camouflage of the stream for the chrome
of the ocean.
Substrate - The material which comprises a stream bottom.