How to Chum

Draw a variety of fish by learning how to chum effectively.

How to Chum
Chumming is key to scoring on reef and bottom fish.Dave Lear

Chumming is an effective tactic for a variety of game fish. Culled by-catch from shrimp trawlers is used to catch tuna, king mackerel and sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Northeast Florida and Georgia Atlantic coasts.

How to Chum
Shrimp boats in the Gulf provide a ready supply of chum.Dave Lear

Shrimp or crab bits loaded into tubes will draw bonefish and permit up on the flats. Chum will draw red snapper to the surface quickly than a vacuum, cleaner, while ground menhaden or frozen chum entices tarpon, cobia and kings. A chum slick created on moving tides can draw fish for miles into your spread of waiting baits or sight-cast lures.

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How to Chum
Bycatch from shrimp boats include a variety of baits.Dave Lear

There are several ways to effectively release chum without making a mess of the boat. The key is to disperse the material into the water at a steady, even flow rate. Release too much and the targeted fish stuff themselves on the chum instead of your baits. Release too little and they might not feed at all.

A mesh bag with a drawstring top is the most popular choice for dispersing frozen chum blocks. Various sizes are available—just make sure they are large enough to hold the block.

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Mesh bags require minimum effort and they can be reused; to clean, tie off on a cleat and drag it through the water during the run back in. Disposable ones are also now available from various tackle shops. Cheap mesh laundry bags from discount retailers are another disposable option.

Manufactured or homemade PVC tubes do a good job of distributing scent and tiny pieces of frozen chum or diced shrimp, crabs and baitfish, provided they have plenty of holes. Devices like the Chum-King Chummer and Chum Churn work with either fresh or frozen chum.

How to Chum
Gunnel-mounted grinder makes chum on the spot.Dave Lear

A simple hand-cranked meat grinder is a topside alternative. Used grinders can be found at flea markets and garage sales for under $10. Commercial electric grinders can be plugged into a 12-volt outlet on the boat. With a section of metal or PVC pipe and a flange, grinders can be mounted to a board and placed in a rod holder while fishing. Add fresh or frozen bait, crank it into a gooey paste and load into a mesh bag or scrape directly into the water. Repeat every few minutes.