There are Chinook in Chile? That’s right! Some 30 years ago, Chinook salmon were raised and planted in a few river systems in Southern Chile. The stocks were taken from two Washington State rivers, the Kalama and Cowlitz, both tributaries of the Columbia River. Since then these strains have naturalized and flourished, now inhabiting more than ten watersheds. It only makes sense that these fish have thrived so well as the geography and climate of southern Chile is very similar to that of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
Over the past few years Chile West has been researching Chinook fisheries in Southern Chile. Our goal is to anticipate the beginning of the Chinook runs and catch them on flies fresh from the sea – ‘chromers’!
Since these fish are a spring run Chinook or ‘Springer’, they start their run in the spring and stay in the river until the fall to spawn. These fish tend to run deep and seek out the deepest of holes to rest until spawning time. It has been said that the spring Chinook is of the hardest to catch. In our research and experimentation, we have found this to be true, as we have not yet dialed in the techniques to catch them on flies during the first few months of the run. However, we have indeed caught them on hardware and so far, ‘pulling plugs’ has proven to be most effective.
These fish are indeed ‘chromers’ and totally un-blemished. Apparently Chinooks can get pretty darned comfortable in Southern Chile.