Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is boasting about the success of its chum salmon hatchery program this year at the Nooksack River.

Nooksack River hatchery spawns over 5 million eggs in 2023

In the fall of 2023, the Kendall Creek Hatchery on the Nooksack River, in partnership with the Nooksack Indian Tribe and Lummi Nation, greatly increased its chum collection and broodstock programs. In all, over 5.2 million chum eggs were collected.

In previous years, WDFW has worked with anglers and tribes on the Skyhomish River (Wallace River Hatchery) and Skagit River (Marblemount Hatchery). This expansion of the chum hatchery program has proven a remarkable success.

WDFW staff spawning chum salmon at Wallace River Hatchery near Sultan.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

"ChumZilla" will incubate the eggs for a spring release

The collected eggs are now being spawned inside a large incubation trailer nicknamed the "ChumZilla." The fry produced will be sent to Bellingham Bay and the Strait of Georgia in the early spring of 2024.

WDFW shared their appreciation:

Due to frequent high-water conditions in November and December, and because chum will “stray” from their natal spawning area to nearby creeks, sloughs, and even other watersheds, collecting returning adult chum for hatchery broodstock can be a challenge. We’re thankful to all the anglers, fishing guides, partners, and co-manager tribes who are making these efforts possible!


WDFW Employee Jaime with an adult chum salmon at the Nooksack hatchery.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife / Canva

What are chum?

"Chum" are also known as dog or keta salmon (Oncorhynchus keta). "Chum" comes from the Chinook term tzum (meaning 'spotted'). They have also been marketed under the trade name silverbrite salmon.

The chum salmon are identifiable by their strong green color marked with vertical purple stripes during the spawning season. The males grow enlarged teeth during this time. This salmon species is one of the last to return to Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and coastal rivers each fall, and serves as a prey species for eagles, trout, and orca.

Commercial chum runs can provide local fishers and tribes economic and cultural benefits.

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