SERVE UP THE KINGFISH APPETIZERS
Chumming Helps Stimulate and Intensify Feeding
By BILL MILLER
If you’re tired of watching kingfish baits swim unnoticed, try jump starting the action with a healthy dose of chumming. Methods and ingredients vary, but one thing is constant — effective chumming will attract and hold fish near your boat or trolling area, coax the fish into feeding and increase the intensity of existing action.
By definition, chumming means you’re putting free food —or something that smells like it — into the water to entice the fish
One of the most popular chumming methods is a 5- to 7-pound frozen chum block. Available at most bait shops, they usually consist of ground fish carcasses, but some of the better brands include fish oil for added scent. To sweeten your store bought chum, thaw it and mix in your own oil and refreeze. Even better is to make your own by grinding fresh baitfish, adding menhaden oil and freezing for future use. However you obtain your chum block, hang it in a mesh bag from a midship cleat. As the block melts in the water, it disperses an oily slick with hundreds of tiny fish pieces.
Also effective is dead bait cut into small chunks or ground into a fishy mash. The pieces of bait add smell and visual stimulus as they flash in the water. Fresh bait has better scent than frozen.
Other popular chumming methods include:
• Fish Oil — Menhaden (aka “pogy”) oil is a standard on most kingfish boats. It can be dispersed through IV bags, sponges or soaked rags stuffed into a chum bag. The downside of fish oil is that it’s very messy and hard to remove from clothes and hands.
• Mix It Yourself: Combine floating and sinking commercially made fish food (50/50) in a 5-gallon bucket and mix in a gallon of menhaden oil. The fish food absorbs the oil and disperses it as the pieces dissolve. With some floating and some sinking, you cover the water column. Dip or pour the soaked pieces into a chum bag. This creates an awesome slick, but the process is very messy.
For maximum benefit, always troll back and forth through your chum slick to see if fish are feeding in it. The oil from your slick will put a sheen on the water and show you the path to follow. Otherwise, all you’re doing is chumming for nearby boats. When you’re near other boats, angling etiquette says that it’s bad form to troll in someone else’s chum slick. Give at least 75 yards clearance. Also, don’t anchor in the chum slick of another anchored boat and don’t troll in their chum slick for at least 200 yards.
Finally, remember what Capt. Gene Turner, one of Florida’s foremost kingfish experts, says: "Use small pieces of chum. You want to feed the fish, not fill them."
Anchor or troll-can chum doing both.
Anchored-a moving tide helps disperse chum setting up a slick.Most chumming is done on top, but you can tie a chum bag on a downrigger and drop it down varying the depths trying to bring fish up from below the surface.
What to chum with: Live Bait-any bait you can buy or catch,usually crippled.If you don’t cripple them they swim away and take the kingfish with hem.Scaled sardines,Threadfin Herring are easy to get in big numbers to chum with.
Offbeat-mylar pogy stickers on the bottom of your boat.
Chum bomb-if you feel like the fish are holding over a specific piece of structure, wreck, rock ledge, or in an area, you can bomb the area with chum. Dump your chum bag, a 5-gallon bucket of cut up bait, empty most of your bait well in a specific spot. Take a GPS reading on the spot and troll back and forth over it for an hour or so.
Trolling secrets-Some times a hooked fish will throw up bait fish already eaten as he tries to loose the hook.Other fish will come up and eat the thrown up bait fish. So make a big circle when you catch a fish and go back over the area. Your hooked fish will chum for you