Chum is a mixed bait that works on every species of target fish, both salt and freshwater…period. That’s why!
Chum can be an exotic [and expensive] blend of secret ingredients or simple table scraps. It is up to you. Some species of fish come directly to the chum slick. Others are drawn to the smaller bait fish that always find and surround the chum.
Chum At Team Fish
Here at Team Fish, Inc. we have given up on the expensive pre- made concoctions and have reverted back to our roots. For our chumming saltwater efforts we start with a trip to the fish department of our local supermarket. We have introduced ourselves to the manager and asked about how they dispose of their out of date fish or trimmings. We explained to the store what we were trying to do and offered to buy the waste trimmings and out of date seafood items. In one case we were asked for a 5 gallon bucket with a cover and they would gladly fill it. When ready, we come by and pick it up.
I have never paid more than a few dollars for all we were willing to take. Be sure to highlight the recycling efforts and re-purposing nature of what you are trying to do. No one likes to throw items away if they can be sold or put to use. If you start to hear about ‘health department’ concerns and the like, go to another store. You’ll soon find a manager or counter person willing to help.Chum in a bucket
First step in chumming is to plan on your storage container. I like to reuse half gallon milk or juice containers. They open fully to a wide mouth and re-close easily with a stapler. They fit nicely in the freezer. Be sure to leave a few inches at the top for expansion when you freeze them. A broken chum container in a freezer is not a conversation you want to have or a mess you want to clean. Any suitable container can be put to use.
Next is to find a mixing bucket and add a mixture of finely crumbled and full size pieces of low cost dry cat food or even stale bread. Combine the scraps you were able to acquire from the fish store. This might be a good time to mention you can use your own fish scraps or left over bait from a previous trip. Chum should have a blend of piece sizes to cover a wide range of depths as the frozen chum melts. Adding any quantity of menhaden oil is a great idea, but pricey. Same thing with cans of tuna. We like to add a number of standard-size cans of cat food. Don’t use that fancy gourmet kitty food. You want the cheap, smelly kind for chumming.
When I was a kid, cans of niblet corn were a required ingredient. I’ve caught plenty of fish with corn in the stomach. If you still mistakenly believe corn kills fish, leave it out and check local regulations. Rice and noodles work well also.Your recipe can be adjusted as needed for the particulars of your target species and what ingredients you can get your hands on. Flour, oatmeal, fillers, binders and secret enhancers all find their way into one or more of our mixes every time. Letting it sit to distribute flavors and having the dry parts soak in is a great idea but not always feasible. Once evenly blended it can be ladled into your containers for freezing until ready.
Here’s a pro tip: Add a few golf ball sized rocks wrapped in cheesecloth into the container before filling. Leave a piece of cloth trailing out of the top. This will aid in the removal of the chum once frozen as well as keep the rocks in place as the frozen block melts. The rocks add a weight to sink the block easily. I’ve seen an old sock used for chumming with a string tied to it as it was suspended over the side. Now you can put it on the bottom, suspend it mid water or keep it near the surface, it’s up to you. Whatever works is fine.
The paper containers can be torn away or the frozen block can be lifted out when ready. Commercially available nylon sack cloths, onion bags and wire mesh holders or simply holes in the container will let the melting chum block put off the irresistible trail right to your location and really helps your chumming efforts.
As with everything we do, be sure to check your local regulations and always respect the environment. You will find chumming to be a great addition to your angling arsenal