Once the chinook and coho are all up the rivers us Washington anglers have limited salmon choices in the salt. However, one option besides black mouth salmon fishing is Puget Sound chum salmon. Now, some anglers won’t bother with chum salmon as they think it is less tasty than other species and is fed to dogs in Alaska (aka ‘dog salmon’). Not true! The chum salmon got its nickname ‘dog salmon’ not because it’s fed to dogs, but because of the big, canine-like teeth that chum salmon produce as the spawn.

Dog Food or Good Eating?

When caught in the salt, chum salmon is actually perfectly good table fare. Of course chum salmon does need a bit more care. You need to bleed and gut the fish right away in the field and then take it home to cook and eat right away. Or, another great option for chum is to smoke it. If you find that you don’t like that way chum eats as normal table fare, then smoke it and I guarantee you will be satisfied with smoked chum.

Where to Fish for Chum Salmon in the Puget Sound

You may be wondering where to fish for chum in the Puget Sound. There is good chum fishing basically all over the Puget Sound. You can look for chum near Kennedy Creek, Johns Creek, Chico Creek, Curly Creek, Perry Creek, Whatcom Creek, McLane Creek, Eagle Creek and of course the Hoodsport Hatchery in Hood Canal.

The map below shows where there are documented spawning for fall chum. You can also see my previous article (DO YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHICH STREAMS AND RIVERS HAVE: CHINOOK, COHO, PINK, AND CHUM FOR EACH SEASON (SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER) and use the Salmonscape tool to zoom in and take a closer look.

Chum Streams South Puget Sound
Chum Streams – South Puget Sound
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I fish in the saltwater 95% of the time, but on occasion I will fish fresh water if there is a nice game fish to go after. Lake Washington Coho is one of those exceptions. But they are also tricky to catch, which makes it a fun challenge.

Another bonus to Lake Wa Coho is that the limit is four fish (check your regulations), making it even more of a challenge to limit out.

I took me fishing this fishery three times before I finally dialed it in. Here are a few things to know if you want to go after Lake Wa Coho:

Fish at the right time

I usually like to begin fishing about the second week of October (on or around Oct 10th). By this time of the year, all of the Coho that we saw in the North Puget Sound (around West Point, Jeff Head, and Edmond’s) have migrated through the locks and are pooling up in Lake Washington, preparing to spawn.

Fish the right area

I tried all the different areas, but did not have any luck until I fished the Yarrow Point area (shown below). You can also try along the beach in front of Kirkland and also up by Kenmore, or along the beach in front of Saint Edward State Park. Note: these fish will actually head toward Kenmore and into the Sammamish River to their spawning destination.

Fish with the right gear

Because these fish are transitioning to fresh water, they tend to get “lock jaw” and some of the normal coho setups might not work. You will have to use a setup that triggers the fishes natrual instinct and makes them react. Like pulling a string from a cat, they will pounce on it every single time because they are instinctual wired that way.

We used a small chrome dodger and a Mack’s Lure 40550 Pee Wee Wiggle Hoochie Hot Pink Glow (shown below) It is the wiggle fin which gave the hoochie extra action and allowed us to catch the “lock jaw” coho. I’ve also seen people have success with a Rapala Wiggle Wart. The movement and rattle inside the Wiggle Wart are” designed for targeting finicky fish”.

Lake Washington Coho Setup
Lake Washington Coho Setup