Chum Salmon Deserve a New Nickname... "Tiger" Salmon - Alaska Fly Fishing Trips

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Chum Salmon Deserve a New Nickname… “Tiger” Salmon


Chum Salmon develop large canine-like teeth

Every species of Alaskan salmon has multiple names and nicknames. Chum salmon are often referred to  as “dog” salmon (and less commonly as “calico” salmon). The “dog” salmon nickname has two possible roots. One, the Interior Alaska Natives reportedly fed their sled dogs large amounts of dried chum salmon. Two, they develop large and sharp canine-like teeth. Perhaps it’s a little of both.

The Case for Tiger Salmon

A few years ago we started calling chum salmon by a new, modern day name – “tiger” salmon, because of their tiger-like reddish to purple to greenish stripes on their flanks, which start showing after the spawning metamorphosis begins. The stripes become visually dramatic the longer the chum salmon is in fresh water.

Chum salmon develop dramatic tiger-like stripes

And much like pink salmon, the chum salmon flesh deteriorates rather quickly once they enter fresh water. Which is why the fight of a chum, after being in the fresh water for a while, is clearly not that same as one caught in or near the salt water.

But as more and more Alaska fly fishermen are learning, tiger salmon are a top rate sportfish with a serious attitude when they are ocean-fresh. Numerous articles in the fly fishing magazines (I’m sure blogs, too) are now being written about the power of the ocean-fresh phase of this historically underrated salmon. They are aggressive on the fly and can make knuckle bashing and long, freight train like runs.

Ocean-fresh chum salmon can make blazing fast runs

Big sharp teeth, tiger stripes and attitude. Now you see where we’re coming from.

So grab your fly rod, sample their ocean-fresh power, enjoy their stunning freshwater coloration and join us in using a new name… TIGER SALMON.

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