Just Throw a Scoop of Pilchards 

By: Capt. Bruce Andersen 

There’s an old saying among fishermen that goes “if you chum, they will come”. There are a lot of different types of chumming, but I could say firsthand that there is no better way to get a school of fish fired up, then by live bait chumming. We’ve got several different types of fishing, where chumming with live baits can lead to some of the most amazing action, you can witness out on the water!

My favorite type of bait fish to chum with, would be live pilchards. Pilchards are a great bait to begin with and a favorite of most of the species, we target here in the Florida Keys. They are often readily available anywhere from the inshore channels all the way out to the edge of the reef and can usually be caught in large quantities with a cast net. When the pilchards are around, I’ll usually try to black out both of the large live wells on my conch 27 with hundreds of them so that I’ll have plenty of freebies to chum with.

The technique of chumming with pilchards works on almost every species that we target here in the keys. Throwing scoops of live pilchards out behind the boat, followed by a couple of hook baits on light spinning tackle is effective for everything from Patch Reef Fishing for mutton snapper, mangrove snapper, and yellow bar jacks to catching some of the biggest yellowtail snapper you’ll ever see out on the reef, to raising packs of sailfish beyond the reef to getting the black fin tuna busting right behind the boat out on the hump. In all these scenarios when everything goes right, you’ll have fish coming up to the surface, chasing balls of pilchards, so fired up that they lose most of their inhibitions and will usually have no problem eating a hooked bait. Often, even when fishing seems very slow, a few scoops of pilchards will turn on the action fast.

We are very lucky to have an abundant supply of live bait down here in the Florida Keys, and as long as the bait is available and you or the Captain your fishing with is willing to put in the work to catch them, they can be the key to a great day out on the water. So the next time you’re out and things seem a little slow, just throw a few scoops of pilchards and see what comes up busting!

— www.captaineasycharters.com
You can reach Captain Bruce Andersen at Capt. Easy Charters,
MM 85, call 305.360.2120 or email at: captbrucekey@comcast.net