In Arctic, Western, and Interior Alaska, where they are highly sought after as a traditional dried winter food supply for humans and dogs, chum salmon are harvested in greater numbers than any other salmon species. Though the least valuable (per pound) of all Pacific salmon species, chum salmon have ranked second (to pink salmon) in average annual catch in Alaska’s commercial salmon fishery since statehood. Chum salmon are typically marketed as a canned or smoked product and exported to Asia and Europe. Chum salmon flesh is lighter in color and oil content than other species of salmon, but its firmness and flavor, if caught fresh, make chum salmon a pleasant substitution for other salmon species.
In the sport fishery, anglers generally prefer chum salmon less than other salmon species, as they have typically begun deteriorating by the time they reach popular sport-fishing areas. Where they spawn near the coast, chum salmon have a tendency to begin to “turn” prior to leaving the sea. However, when targeted near river mouths prior to, or soon after, entrance into freshwater, chum salmon can provide excellent action on sport fishing gear.