Saltwater Fishing: How to Make and Use Chum

Updated on May 26, 2016

Why Use Chum?

Chum is that obnoxious mixture of fish blood and scraps of fish flesh that many species of game fish love. Using it can turn an unproductive fishing trip into an exciting angling adventure that will help you catch your limit. The natural ocean currents will help distribute the scent of food and the actual bits of food through the water, getting saltwater fish in the area to get into the feeding mood.

All kinds of saltwater species are attracted by the chum, including baitfish. The presence of baitfish, will, of course, attract the larger fish you’re targeting. And, in many cases, the scent and food will call the big boys up for you, too. Chumming is easy to do, and it’s inexpensive, and it can certainly help you fill your cooler.

Making Your Own Chum

To start with, you'll need an adequate amount of chum. You can purchase ready-made chum from your favorite bait shop for a nominal fee, or you can easily make your own. Just finely crumble ten loaves of stale bread into a five-gallon bucket, and cover the crumbs with a gallon of menhaden oil. Add ten standard-size cans of cat food. Don’t use that fancy gourmet kitty food. You want the cheap, smelly kind. You can also add any leftover food you might have on hand, including niblet corn, rice, and noodles. Next comes the fish. Buy or net a few oily fish and cut them into different size pieces. I prefer using mullet because of their strong fish-attracting odor. Make sure you have a wide variety in the sizes of your fish pieces. You want some tiny morsels, some medium-sized pieces, and some big chunks. This way, part of your chum will sink quickly to the bottom, some will drift slowly to the bottom, and some of the small pieces will float. This way, you’ll be covering a variety of water levels and targeting different fish species. The menhaden oil will make an oil slick on the water, so you’ll know exactly where you’ve already chummed.

Where and How to Chum From a Boat

Where to chum? Where the fish are, of course! Use your fish finder. Also, watch the water surface closely for fish or bait movement. Locate rocks, reefs, wrecks, ledges, and troughs, and chum over them. Many fish species hang out at such places.

Sit or stand at the back of the boat and slowly and consistently ladle out the chum. You want to put out just enough to attract the fish – not to give them a full meal. The presence of food in the water will put many species in a feeding frenzy, which you can take advantage of.

When you’ve laid down a sufficient chum line, let it work for about fifteen or twenty minutes. That should be enough time for the fish to find it if any are in the area. After the chum line has rested, troll or cast your lines just beyond the chum and then through it. If you don’t get a strike within a few minutes, you probably chose a bad location. Move to another spot and start another line.

Chum from a boat to call the fish to dinner!
Chum from a boat to call the fish to dinner!

How to Chum From a Pier

Are you more of a pier angler? No worries – you can still use chum to effectively draw fish to the area. Place a good supply of chum in a chum bag or in a heavy mesh bag. Place a heavy weight in the bag. I like to use a pyramid sinker or two for this. Drop the bag over the side of the pier, let it sink about a foot, and tie it off at the pier railing. The ocean currents will carry the enticing aroma to any fish in the neighborhood, alerting them that an easy meal is nearby.

Chum from a pier to attract sharks and other big fish.
Chum from a pier to attract sharks and other big fish.

Chum in a Tidal Creek, Bay, or Inlet

Don’t have a boat or use of a pier? You can still reap the benefits of using chum. It can be used in tidal creeks, inlets, and bays, but you’ll want to use a little different type of chum. Use a large can of smelly cat food and punch holes in it with an ice pick. Use a knife point to make some of the holes larger. Visit your fishing spot at dead low tide, and attach the can to a wooden stake or to a PVC pipe with a slanted end. Hammer the pipe or stake into the soft mud, and wait for the tide to come back in.

The cat food will attract all kinds of bait, including shrimp, crabs, and baitfish. All of these, of course, will attract larger game fish species. All you have to do is cast your line around the staked cat food.

Another method you can use in the same type of location: Purchase some fish meal or some brine shrimp. Get a handful of clay and mix it with the meal or brine shrimp. Form it into a firm ball and toss it into the water. As the clay breaks apart, the enclosed bait will be released into the water and carried by the natural currents, ringing the dinner bell for fish, crabs, and shrimp.

Both of the above methods are also a great way to catch shrimp and baitfish in your cast net. Just cast over or near the stake or the meal ball.

Chumming can also be effective in a bay, inlet, or tidal creek.
Chumming can also be effective in a bay, inlet, or tidal creek.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • De Greek profile image

        De Greek 

        6 years ago from UK

        I have just started being interested in fishing and this is what I have been looking all over the Internet for. THANK YOU - I LOVE YOU! ;-))))

      • profile image

        RonnieWilliams 

        6 years ago

        I never new catfood would work.

        RonnieWilliams

        PBG fl.

      • micko27 profile image

        Mirjan Stojanovic 

        6 years ago from Belgrade

        I am terrible fisherman but I like fishing :) Great hub! :)

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        7 years ago from Georgia

        Thanks, Larry!

      • larryprice5372 profile image

        Larry Wade Price 

        7 years ago from Long Beach, California

        A great fishing article. I've written one, and plane to relate more on this wonderful sport and hobby.

        Thanks for a good read.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        7 years ago from Georgia

        Many thanks!

      • alanhubba profile image

        alanhubba 

        7 years ago

        Some great fishing and tips

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        7 years ago from Georgia

        Jalus, give it a try!

      • profile image

        Jalus 

        7 years ago

        Interesting! I never new cat food would work. Thanks for the tips! I'll be sure to try these out soon.

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Funny, Creek! Now ya know!

      • habee profile imageAUTHOR

        Holle Abee 

        8 years ago from Georgia

        Thanks for visiting, Mexico! I appreciate it!

      • thecreeksideangle profile image

        thecreeksideangle 

        8 years ago from Nevada

        Wow, cat food. I always wondered what off brand cat food could be used for besides crawfish bait. Very interesting article.

      • profile image

        Mexico Bass Fishing 

        8 years ago

        Those are pretty nice pictures and big fishes, thanks for sharing! Take care!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, skyaboveus.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://skyaboveus.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)