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BULKLEY RIVER

Salmon

CHASING “CHUM”-ZILLA
Those who revel in scores of hook ups per day anxiously await the arrival of the Chum Salmon. Our Chum fishing is done in July and August on the Kitimat River and the Douglas Channel.

Chums are taken on cerise, pink or chartreuse leech patterns tied typically on 1/0 hooks. You can easily tie your own patterns using these colors and have confidence they will work. Chum Salmon are very aggressive towards a fly. They are also very tenacious fighters. They will consistently put your gear to the test, snapping rods, and burning out drag systems. Because of this fact heavy rods are a must. Most Chum anglers prefer 8 or 9 weight rods and 12-20 pound test tippets.

The life cycle of a chum is very similar to other anadromous salmon species. They generally mature between 4 and 6 years of age. Adult fish enter freshwater rivers during the summer months and arrive at their natal spawning grounds in the fall. All chums die after spawning. 60 to 90 days after hatching the small salmon fry almost immediately begin a downstream migration towards the ocean.

PRETTY IN “PINK”
The Bulkley river has a very strong run of Pink salmon from mid June onwards. The same color flies for chum typically work well for pinks, however sometimes dressed lighter or tied smaller. The best rig for pinks are 5-7 weight rods, a floating line with a long leader and a weighted fly. This will present your fly in the strike zone, and no pink salmon in its right mind can pass up fly in front of its face.

Pink salmon have a very simple two-year life cycle, which is so invariable that fish running in odd-numbered years are isolated from fish running in even-numbered years so that no gene flow occurs between them. Adults spawn in the fall and the young fry emerge in the spring. All pinks die after spawning

“Sock” it to them
The sockeye of the Skeena are the most prolific salmon run in the system. The sockeye presents an interesting challenge for the angler. While the sheer numbers of them can be mind boggling, they seldom legitimately take a fly. The majority of sockeye taken on any river are “lined” by presenting a fly with a sweeping arc near the bottom. That being said, there are times when sockeye will take a fly. Fresh fish will scream line and cartwheel up and down a run. The best rods for sockeye are stiff 7-8 weight rods. Floating lines, long leaders and weighted flies are the preferred method.

Sockeye are unique among the Pacific salmon in that juveniles rear for at least a year or two in lakes before migrating to saltwater. Because young sockeye spend a significant portion of their lives within lakes or estuaries, they are particularly susceptible to changes in water quality and habitat threats. Poor timber and agricultural management practices can lead to siltation in streams and lakes which may ruin spawning beds or smother the eggs

“King” of the River
The Chinook salmon (King Salmon) generally live 5 to 7 years, though they can mature by their second to third year. As a result the kings in a spawning run can vary greatly in size. A mature 3-year old may only weigh 4 pounds while a mature 7-year old may exceed 50 pounds.

All Chinook salmon in the skeena drainage are native wild fish. The Bulkley and Morice Rivers get a very solid run of wild Chinook in July and early August. The Morice River is an excellent place to catch Chinook salmon on the fly.

Some kings make immense spawning migrations. For example, many of the Yukon River kings will migrate over 2,000 miles during a 60 day period to reach the streams and headwaters in Yukon Territory, Canada.

Spawning in streams that are larger and deeper than other salmon utilize, chinook salmon spawn from late summer to late fall, depending on the run. Fry and smolts usually stay in freshwater from 1 to 18 months before travelling downstream to estuaries, where they remain up to 189 days

Mortality of chinook salmon in the early life stages is usually high due to natural predation and human induced changes in habitat, such as siltation, high water temperatures, low oxygen conditions, loss of stream cover and reductions in river flow. These impacts are primarily caused by poor forestry practices, dams, and water diversions. This is why we need to protect our rivers and ensure that our government preserves these wild native runs forever

“SMOKIN “COH” IBAS
Coho are probably the most sought after salmon for fly fisherman. They typically run between 8-14 pounds with even larger ones taken regularly. Unlike other salmon coho tend to prefer a fly that is moving rapidly. Most takes will come on the swing, or while you are stripping in your fly. An 8 weight rod is perfect for catching coho. Both a floating line, and a variety of sink tips is needed to allow you to cover the water thoroughly.

The spawning migrations begin after heavy late-fall or winter rains breach the sand bars at the mouths of coastal streams, allowing the fish to move in. Coho fry remain in streams for over a year. Moving seaward the following spring, most cohos return to spawn when they are three years old. Again all Coho die after spawning.