Chum Salmon – Oncorhynchus keta

Spawning Phase – Freshwater



Ocean Phase – Saltwater



Distinguishing Characteristics

Adult:  Silver in colour. Adult chum salmon lack distinct spots on their back and tail in comparison to all other Pacific Salmon except Sockeye. As they mature the body darkens and the head, teeth and snout enlarge on the males. The spawning colours of Chum are distinctive: head becomes dark, back is a dark brownish green with purple blotches interspersed with dirty white patches on their anterior flanks.



Fry: Chum fry have regularly shaped and spaced parr marks (faint or absent below the lateral line) with a mottle iridescent green back.


In British Columbia Chum salmon are widely distributed along the coast but rarely penetrate more than 200km inland.


Chum salmon spawn in over 300 streams in British Columbia. Northern populations enter fresh water in late July or August and spawn shortly after reaching their natal stream. Females choose the spawning site with preference to sites with upwelling water that is often warmer than surrounding river water. Nest digging and spawning behaviour of Chum salmon is very similar to other salmonines. Typically the female is accompanied by the biggest, most dominant male and a variable number of smaller males.