Friday, November 04, 2016

Please Leave Oregon Chum Salmon Alone

I don't know of a single conservation minded fly angler who actively throws flies at chum salmon on the Miami and Kilchis rivers in Oregon. Sure we all did years back when their numbers were abundant but now it is not ethical to harass these fish in those two Oregon rivers. You want to fly fish for chums? There are plenty of them up in Washington! Go up there to fish for them.

With the first significant falls rains the return of the runs of chum salmon on the Miami and Kilchis rivers will soon be upon us.
These salmon are arguably one of the best freshwater game fish that swims the waters of the Pacific Northwest. They come aggressively to a fly and fight with the strength to snap any 8 weight fly rod out there.
The chum salmon rival the steelhead in every way when hooked.
That being said we should leave them the alone and here is why. Their already depressed numbers have fallen to a dismal return in recent years. In the 80's they were so numerous that you could find them from the Columbia all the way down the coast and in huge numbers. While their flesh was inferior their roe and their fighting ability made them a desirable game fish.
They would seemingly all show up at once and you would actually see them ascending drainage ditches during higher water. It was amazing to watch them in tidewater as they would, by the hundreds, boil on the surface in some kind natural dance. It almost seemed like their movements were was beautiful to watch.
That was all over 25 years ago! Fast forward to the last few years and if you are familiar at all with the Miami and Kilchis you know how poorly the chum salmon have fared lately.
Still there are those who cannot resist tail hooking these chums and treating them with no more respect than that of a squaw fish.

It's disgusting how these salmon are treated and if ODFW were ever to do that right thing, and that is unlikely, they would not allow even a catch and release season on the chums.
In the name of angling opportunity there is a short season allowed with bait and treble hooks.
Even fly fishers will stomp through the redds and abuse these salmon in search of their "sport".
I quit fishing for them about 10 years ago and it was after seeing some uncaring gear fishermen cruelly kicking these noble fish back into after snagging them that I quit.
I never pursued them with a lot of interest in the first place. I got very angry when the editor of Salmon and Steelhead Journal magazine Pat Hoglund had a feature article on these fish with maps to the Miami and Kilchis included. He accused me of trying to protect a favored fishery and I informed him the only thing I wanted to protect was these dwindling runs of salmon.
I even chatted with him about it at the Sportsman's Show but he has to sell magazine so I guess anything is fair game.
It would be a pity to see yet another run of salmon disappear off of the northwest landscape so if any of you reading this are thinking about pursuing these chum salmon for sport then please think again and do the right thing okay?



  1. I live on the Miami River. I was totally shocked by the amount of people who show up to snag one of these fish. I am not opposed to catch and release but most people are not even trying to catch one just snag it....I watched several people just casting into shallow water spawning grounds.... Also please respect private property your fishing license doesn't give you land rights in someones back yard!

  2. Thank you for your input Ryan. These salmon deserve more respect than they get