Silver-bright Chum Salmon and Sockeye Salmon are often confused by many novice anglers. However, Chum Salmon can easily be distinguished from Sockeye Salmon as the Chum Salmon has a caudal peduncle fin that is much narrower than the sockeye.
The Chum Salmon is further differentiated from sockeye as they begin their migration to freshwater rivers and streams for spawning. Vertical bars appear along the side of the Chum Salmon that appear like watermarks.
The more mature and the closer to fresh water chum salmon gets, the more pronounced the watermarks. While this colouration may render the external appearance of the fish unattractive, the flesh texture and colour is unaffected.
The colouration make Chum Salmon more difficult to buy due to the misunderstanding of the quality grade descriptions.
Silver-bright is the commonly used term for top quality ocean-run chum; the skin on this fish is a shiny silver. Silver-brights should not be confused with silver salmon, which is another name for coho.
Semi-bright describes a more mature fish with watermarks that do not extend below the lateral line. Chum with watermarks extending below the lateral line are commonly referred to as dark; the skin is gray to black with occasional red mottling below the lateral line.
The flesh colour of chum salmon also varies, depending on the maturity of the fish. Most silver-bright chums have reddish-pink flesh that loses colour the closer it gets to fresh water. Dark chums may have pink flesh, but the meat is soft and lacking in flavour.
Chum Salmon Size
Adult chum salmon usually weigh from 4.4 to 6.6 kg, with an average length of 60 cm. The record for chum is 16 kg and 102 cm and was caught at Edie Pass in British Columbia.