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Making Your Own Chum

Making Your Own Chum

Chumming is one of the oldest strategies anglers and spearfishermen alike have used to bring in fish. Depending on the type of fish you are targeting, chum can dramatically improve your chances of shooting the fish. If you deploy it correctly, you can lure reef fish up into the water column, or bring pelagic fish in to check out the activity. We will go over some strategies for chumming and types that have worked best for us in the past. Supplying the chum for a trip can be a time consuming, and sometimes even expensive task, but it can also be the guarantee for an invite on the next trip.


Components of Chum

The conditions have to be right to use chum correctly. Having visibility is an important element for it, because chum is not just smell-based. In limited visibility, fish can’t see your chum and more importantly, you can’t see the fish coming in. This is a problem for trying to target fish as well as keeping yourself safe from predators. Chum should have a visual component. This means it's preferable to have shiny fish for chum, or to use chum along with flashers if you don't have shiny pieces. The most popular chum for shine and flash is glass minnows. They satisfy multiple elements of the ideal chum. Chum also needs a smell based element to work best. Menhaden oil is the industry favorite for bringing fish in. The next ingredient needed is something that people don't think about, which is something to control the sinking of the chum. The slower it sinks, the better. 


Deploying Your Chum

How you deploy your chum is also important to setting the depth. One of the easiest and most versatile methods is to use the Chum Dinger. It fits pre-made chum blocks well, or you can put your own mix in. The durable container allows you to set it at any depth without fear for predators destroying a chum bag. You can keep it near the surface with a flasher float, or tied off to the back of a boat. 

If you have a person on the boat, you can use a bucket to make chum balls. In the bucket, you can combine sand, menhaden oil, water, and whatever else you want to add. This works well over reefs to get fish higher up into the column. It may be worth getting an ice cream scoop just for this purpose. You can do it by hand, but you won’t smell right for a few days after.


Picking Your Ingredients

There are a lot of fish that work well for chum, but glass minnows and threadfin are pretty much the top of the line. Combine either of those with sand and menhaden oil and you have a great, simple combination that will bring the fish in. If you are better at planning ahead, and particularly opposed to store bought chum, there are other options. You can save the fish frames and guts from your previous catch to use in chum for future trips. It may be worth getting a separate chest freezer for all this. Very few significant others are understanding enough to have bags of fish heads, racks, and collars taking up space in the kitchen freezer. If you like hook and line fishing, spoiled frozen bait makes for great chum for spearfishing. Old sardines, shrimp, or squid can easily be repurposed for some great home-made chum blocks.


Building Your Blocks

Pick up some food storage containers and dedicate them to just storing chum. You do not want to keep your leftover meals in these after you've put chum in them. The first step is to make sure you have enough space to store your chum blocks when they are done being made. After that, you can start to thaw out any pieces of frozen components you have. Get a good mix going of different things. Experiment a bit with what works best in your area for what you are targeting. Different species come in on different chum better than others. Once you have your mix of chum in an appropriate sized container, get them stored and frozen in your freezer. From there it just comes down to managing what you are using on certain types of structure. 
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