My Chum, My Pal

A Chum Salmon's Progression Through Life

Chum Salmon Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Salmoniformes

Family: Salmonidae

Genus: Oncorhynchus

Species: Oncorhynchus Keta

The Chum Salmon is known as the dog salmon or Keta salmon. You may have heard of its trade name, Silverbrite salmon. I guess someone thought "Silverbrite" sounds better than "chum".

TRIVIA TIME: This fish's name is derived from the Chinook Jargon word "tzum" meaning "spotted". Funny thing is it has no spots!

Where to find them and their Life Cycle

This salmon is found solely in the Pacific Ocean. The species has a wide range but is only found from Alaska to Oregon in the United States, and along the coast of Canada's British Columbia province.

Adults are a rainbow mixture of silver, blue, and gray. In contrast to the trivia presented above, they have no spots! Makes one wonder, doesn't it? Anyway, the average size of this fish is about 10 to 15 pounds, with a length of around 30". The world record is currently at over 40 pounds and 40" long. That is a LOT of salmon patties!

There are a prominent set of long teeth in the upper and lower jaws. These teeth protrude from the front of the mouth and give the fish an almost comical appearance. It is believed that this has something to do with mating. The females of the species must have low standards.

Spawning is from November thru January, and the fish migrate from the sea to small streams and estuaries. Chum will find a nice spot with submerged vegetation where the females dig the nests and deposit up to 4000 eggs. The male fertilizes them and moves on. Two weeks later, the adults sadly die and leave the new family behind. The young fry hatch in early spring and start the process over again.

The average lifespan is 3 to 7 years with maturity at 4 years.

What they eat and when

As a young thing, chums eat plankton and other microorganisms. As they mature they lean more towards a seafood diet of crustaceans, squid, octopus, insects, and these slimy little worm things that hang on rocks in shallow water.

Chums will dine whenever the urge takes them as food is aplenty in the open sea.

Chum Salmon meets Alaskan Bear -- Bye, Bye, Salmon

How we eat them and how to cook 'em

Salmon is salmon, boys and girls. Chum salmon are no different. Smoke' em, bake 'em, broil 'em. poach 'em, or turn them into patties or little "fish balls" if you want. It is HARD to mess up salmon. We normally eat them as salmon steaks on the grill at my house. Very tasty and very easy.

Other species like this one and the differences

This species has a slight resemblance to Chinook salmon, except for the skin color. Chinook have spots on the tail and the upper body, whereas chums do not. They have "marks" on the body, but not spots. These fish also have oversized teeth in the front of both jaws, making the chum look like Mortimer Schnerd (look it up) Yeah. I said it. Chum Salmon look a little goofy. Well, they DO!

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