By Luke Whittaker
Chinook Observer 

Legends of the fall: Chum develop devout following among autumn anglers


Last updated 11/2/2023 at 11:30am

Luke Whittaker, Chinook Observer

Pete Rosenau and Josh Phillips pose with chum salmon caught last weekend near Nemah, where both feel the next state record could come from local waters. "Just their sheer strength overall makes them fun to catch," Phillips said.

PACIFIC COUNTY - Each autumn, as the leaves begin to change and children in Halloween costumes take to local streets, another fall tradition unfolds in the small streams and tributaries around Willapa Bay.

Lured by their legendary fight and willingness to bite, chum salmon have earned a cult following among recreational fishermen who frequent a number of rivers and streams within the Willapa Bay watershed each fall.

"We fish when we can," said Ilwaco-based Spawn Fly Fish shop co-owner Josh Phillips, fishing alongside the shop's other co-owner Pete Rosenau after eagerly closing up shop and heading north to a favorite fishing spot near Nemah last Saturday.

"A lot of people just assume we're fly fishing for trout," he added. However, Phillips and Rosenau were making their after-work pilgrimage to the coastal streams around the bay for a decidedly bigger quarry: chum salmon, also known as dog, keta, or calico salmon, which are the most widely distributed of all the Pacific salmon, according to NOAA Fisheries.

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