Making Your Own Chum
Chumming is one of the oldest strategies for bringing in fish. Depending on the type of fish you are targeting it 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 chem correctly. Having visibility is an important element for chumming. 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 from predators. It should have a visual component. This means there needs to be shiny fish in the water. The most popular fish for this is the Glass Minnows. They fill multiple elements of the ideal chum. It also needs a smell based element to it to work best. Menhaden Oil is the industry favorite for getting fish interested in smells. The next ingredient needed is something that allows the fish to eat. The slower the it sinks the better.
Deploying Your Chum
How you deploy your chum helps determine how to make your own chum. One of the easiest and most versatile methods is to use the Chum Dinger. It fits pre-made chum blocks well, or you can add 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 of sand, menhaden oil, water, and whatever else you want to add to the bucket. This works well over reefs to get fish higher up into the column. It may be worth getting an ice 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
Glass Minnows! They are everything’s favorite chum. There are a lot of things that work well for chum, but glass Minnows are pretty much the top of the line. Combine those with sand and menhaden oil and you have a great, and 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 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 offal 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 dedicated food storage containers. You do not want to keep your leftovers in these. The first step is to make sure you have enough space to store your chum blocks when they are done. 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 your 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.