Liven up your chumslick with these approaches.
By David A. Brown
Originally published in January 2010 print edition
So you’ve got a frozen chum block hanging in a mesh bag at the stern, maybe some cut chunks of baitfish to dole out now and then. How else can you attract reef fish and pelagics?
>Deep Deployment: Even on shallow spots with light current, only a fraction of a surface chum source will reach the reef. So try dropping a frozen chum block to the bottom. Protect your block from sharks and other scavengers with a wire chum cage like those made by Catch N Bait Supply Company out of Punta Gorda (800-895-3291) or River Marine in Miami (305-856-0080). Weight the cage with sufficient lead and drop it on an independent rope, or attach it to your anchor chain.
A 12-inch length of PVC drilled with vent holes and fitted with removable end caps will also shield chum blocks (use a hack saw to trim chunks that fit your tube). Insert lead weights to sink the tube and rig an attachment swivel with 100-pound fluorocarbon crimped to a hole in the tube and to the swivel.
>Downrigger Enticements: Kingfish anglers often sink their scents by towing chum blocks or ventilated bottles filled with menhaden oil on downriggers. Moving the release clip from its standard position on the downrigger weight to about three feet up the cable leaves the weight’s rear attachment ring open for tethering a chum bag or bottle.
>Skewered Appetizers: Tie a modified chicken rig with three short dropper loops, each holding a thin wire hook with its barb mashed down. Pin a chunk of cut sardine on each hook, drop the rig to the bottom and give it a good jerk to shake the chum loose.
>Bag It: Place a handful of cut sardine chunks or a handful or freshly ground chum in a small paper bag, fasten the bag to a leader with a rubber band and tie a lead weight to the leader’s terminal end. Sea water weakens the bag as it descends and a sharp tug rips open the container to release the chum on-target.
>Sponge Diver: Replace the hook on a standard knocker rig (slip sinker on leader) with a sponge soaked in menhaden oil. Run your leader through the sponge (make a hole with an ice pick or a knitting needle) and use a 2-liter bottle cap as a stopper to keep the leader from slipping back through the sponge. The denser the sponge, the more oil it will retain on its descent. Bottom currents will help waft away the remaining oil, but a few sharp jerks will hasten the process.
>Chunk Dunkin’: Soak dry dog food chunks in menhaden oil and send a scoop-full down to the reef. Let the chunks soak for several hours and keep adding oil until they’re saturated (heavier chunks sink better). Depending on current strength, you may need to sling the chunks off the bow to achieve the proper descent angle that drops the chum on-target.
>Cross Cut: Turning any legal bycatch such as bonito or jack crevalle – both oily, smelly species – into a pile of fresh chum chunks. Laying the fish flat and make about a dozen diagonal slices along the side. Rotate the fish 180 degrees on the same side and make another series of diagonal slits in the opposite direction from the first set. Hold the tail firmly, lay the knife parallel to the fish’s flank and slice along the backbone from the tail to the gills.
Drop a handful of chunks downcurrent every few minutes or use them in the bag or skewering tactics. Whatever your choice, avoid over-chumming. You want the fish fired up, not filled up.
>ChumBuoy: This is a new concept—a floating tube with a plunger action that mixes and distributes chum as the waves move it. Bigger fish seem wary of the boat? Simply anchor or tether the ChumBuoy at a distance, and cast to it. The system is available in some local tackle shops, and online at www.chumbuoy.com; retail price is $99.99. A pound of the concentrated chum does not require refrigeration, and is said to be equivalent to three frozen blocks, lasting three to three and a half.