Columbia River Research Laboratory
Chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
Chum salmon is the second largest of the Pacific salmon species and averages about 8-15 pounds. They also have has the largest geographic distribution of any Pacific salmonid. Adults return to the Columbia River in the fall to spawn in tributaries and at some main-stem sites. Chum salmon are not great “jumpers” so they spawn in the lowermost reaches of rivers and stream, typically within 65 miles of the ocean. Spawning males are known for their large canine-like teeth, which often earns them the name “dog salmon”, and for their tiger stripes of red, green, and black. Spawning females are less vibrantly colored. The female digs a spawning nest called a redd, in which she and her courting male deposit eggs and milt. Often “sneaker” males will rush in to spawn at the last second. Chum salmon are semelparous and die after they spawn. Juvenile fish emerge from the gravel the following spring at a size of about 40 mm and immediately migrate to the ocean, moving primarily at night. Chum salmon in the lower Columbia River are currently listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Specie Act.