Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) populations near their northern range extent in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Alaska have undergone major changes in population trajectory and illuminated the lack of basic information on juvenile ecology. This study fills information gaps on the early life history of chum salmon at northern latitudes. Energy allocation was examined in the context of distribution, feeding intensity, and diet during a critical life history period for a single cohort of juvenile chum salmon (O. keta) as they transition from freshwater to saltwater in Kuskokwim Bay from mid-May to early June. Juvenile chum salmon were primarily captured in the river mouth and plume. Energy density (kJ g−1 dry mass) was related to fork length, timing (day-of-year), and capture location in a general additive model. The smallest fish had slightly higher energy densities, but the change in energy density with fish size was minimal and consistent with allocating energy toward somatic growth rather than lipid storage. Fish captured earlier had higher energy density, likely reflecting the presence of residual yolk lipids during early migration. Fish captured in the river mouth and plume had higher energy densities. Feeding intensity was highest among small fish captured later within the river plume. Diet was dominated by surface prey (insects and calanoid copepods) rather than epibenthic harpacticoid copepods as commonly observed. These results provide the first data on energy allocation of juvenile chum salmon during a critical life history phase and suggest that somatic growth is prioritized over storing lipid at saltwater entry.