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Chum salmon identification

Chum salmon identification

Chum salmon
Oncorhynchus keta

Chum salmon
Chum, also called "dog salmon," are the second largest of the Pacific Salmon. They are usually found in watersheds closer to the salt water, and not in waterways far inland. We don't find as many chum as other species of salmon in King County streams, but we do find a few in the creeks that feed directly into Puget Sound. But, chum sometimes "stray" and can be seen spawning in creeks that you wouldn't expect! If you see a salmon, here's some tips to use to determine whether or not it's your old pal, the chum salmon...

Photos from Inland Fishes of Washington by Whitney and Wydoski, © 1979 University of Washington Press. Reprinted by permission of the University of Washington Press.

Male chum
Adult Male Chum Salmon.
Female chum
Adult Female Chum Salmon.

Identification characteristics:

  • Rare in Lake Washington
  • No distinct black spots on back or caudal fins
  • Males are dark blue above with reddish-purple vertical markings and well developed teeth
  • Females less colorful, often with horizontal bar along sides
  • Lower gum line is black
  • Range in length from 30-42 inches

Spawn timing:

  • November through late December

Now that you know all about identifying salmon in streams, test yourself! Click on the mystery fish page to find out more!