Few species can resist the natural aroma and tasty tidbits that signal a free lunch. Chumming not only attracts fish, it also stimulates their desire to feed. Competition in a chum slick makes fish more aggressive and they often race each other from one piece of chum to the next.
The whole theory of chumming centers on the ability of fish to track prey through their sense of smell. Successful chumming requires a flow of water whether it is a current, tidal movement, or a river or stream. The idea is to get the fish you want to catch to follow the source of the scent and the chum to its source.
Chum takes many forms depending on the species you seek and where along the coast you happen to be fishing. It could be a frozen block of ground up fish or simply a bucket full of fresh ground fish.
You may be able to put it in a mesh bag and hang it over the side or, if it is fresh chum, you will have to ladle it. Chum slicks can be sweetened by occasionally tossing in whole, small fish or chunks of fish. In some situations, a whole fish is partially filleted and tied to a cleat on the boat.
The key lies in maintaining an unbroken slick and smell track even if you are busy battling a fish. In a number of situations, once you stop chumming, the fish are gone within a couple of minutes.
Where you position yourself to chum is equally important. You should have a target such as a wreck, reef, drop off, or structure of some kind. It could simply be a flat where fish are prowling. I’ve fished with skippers who will re-anchor a boat a half-dozen times until they are sure the current will carry the chum to the targeted area at the right depth.
Fishing a dead bait in a chum slick requires a practiced touch. As the flow of water carries the chum, it follows an inclined plane from the surface to the bottom. The trick is to feed line at the same rate as free-floating chum is moving. If you hold back, your bait will linger above the slick. Too much line and it will probably sink faster than the chum.
In some situations, the angler merely waits and watches until he spots fish in the slick. Then, he casts to those fish. This is the preferred method with an artificial lure. If you are a fly fishermen, you need to drift the fly as if it were chum. You’ll get many more strikes that way.
And with live bait, one technique is to cast it well back in the slick. You want the bait to start swimming for the sanctuary of the boat with a predator in hot pursuit. If you are chumming sharks, you can just put a bait a distance behind the boat and a shark will find it.
Chumming produces fish almost anywhere there is a current. It’s always worth a try. The results could surprise you.