IV Chum (Keta) ID July 1, 2011
The Keta, Chum may be our best salmon flavor for smoking but the red salmon has a more intense color. As a sport fish, Keta can show its aerial abilities and provide long runs with fight.
This time of year, bright sea run Keta or Chum can be a little tricky to identify as they come mixed with sockeye or red salmon. To identify the Keta or Chum, I first look for rays of silver in the otherwise dark tail. Then I look at the the wrist, the area between the body and the tail, to see if it is smaller than any other salmon for its size. On a Keta or Chum the pupil of the eye will cover about two thirds of the eye.
Sockeye, by contrast have thicker wrist, smaller pupils that cover about half of the eye and no silver streaks in the tail.
Keta or Chum morphs very rapidly to spawning colors as it gets close to the fresh water stream. Vertical blue to purple stripes develop along the sides and there is no mistaking this fish for anything else.
Locally you may hear the Keta or Chum referred to as a dog salmon as these fish were used to feed sled dogs throughout the winter.