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With the first signals of Spring, juvenile salmon begin to emerge from the rivers around the west coast after a long, cold winter developing beneath the gravel of a stream bottom. While the emergence timing of fry varies greatly depending on species and water temperature, they will be present in many places over the next several months and represent an important food source for lots of salmonid species in the rivers and the salt. While coho, chinook and sockeye fry typically spend at least a year growing in freshwater, chum and pink salmon fry are noteworthy in that they both out migrate immediately to the ocean. This means you’ll find large concentrations of fry during a narrow seasonal window and you’d better believe they get noticed by predators.

Bob Trigg’s Chum Baby has been a spring Puget Sound staple for a number of years. It has all the qualities of a good beach fly. It’s fairly quick to tie, is reasonably durable and can be easily modified to suit a variety of situations. While most patterns feature a bead or conehead for varying degrees of weight, it’s worthwhile to tie some versions without weight as well, since chum fry tend to travel in shallow water or closer to the surface at times, or end up getting pushed there by marauding packs of cutthroat.

I’ve added a few touches to the original Chum Baby to suit my tastes, like the barred Predator Wrap overwing, which helps emphasize the signature tiger barring seen on chum fry. I also replace the original peacock collar with peacock Ice Dub, simply because it’s a far more durable material. Tie up a few of this classic pattern for your saltwater box this spring. If you don’t tie, we’ll continue cranking them out on the vise at the shop over the next month or so for you.

Chum Baby
Hook: Daiichi 2546 #6
Bead: 1/8″ Black Nickel
Thread: 140 Denier Black Ultra Thread
Body: #10 Uni Gold/Silver Mylar Tinsel
Wing: Red Fox Squirrel
Flash: Hends Rainbow Krystal Flash
Topping: Olive Barred Predator Wrap
Head: Peacock Ice Dub

Confluence Beer Pairing:
This month’s beer recommendation is a collaboration between two of our favorite Bellingham breweries, Kulshan and Wander. Flightless Birds is a hoppy kolsch brewed with galaxy hops from Australia, the land of flightless birds. I figured that since ostrich is such a lovely and versatile fly tying material that this beer had to be at least somewhat drinkable. It’s actually super refreshing with a marvelous malt body and fruity hop finish. Pick up a sixer while it’s still available or stop by either brewery to enjoy a pint on tap.

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