Many times as the fish move closer following a slick, chunks of baitfish are dropped into the slick and then chunk bait on a hook is drifted along with those free-floating pieces. This is intended to arouse initially line-shy fish to be less cautious with the angler’s offerings. Again, the rate and amount of chumming is important because if there are only a few fish out there they can become more sated and turn much more discriminating. At the afore mentioned kelp beds, old, wise, and well fed home guard Yellowtail can be seen daily, swimming around the boat picking up free chum bait but avoiding anything on a hook. It is uncanny how they can tell the difference but when you pull the bait off the hook and throw it away, they are right on it.
And finally, at times certain fish are located by meter or suspected to lie at some depth or near the bottom between feeding cycles. Dropping a small bait down 100 to 300 feet takes a lot of weight, which renders the bait less attractive and more unnatural. With quantities of live chum brailed out, these fish can be aroused and enticed to the surface where lighter line and bait can be very effective.
Well, how much is enough chum to take on your trip? Of course it varies with the species of fish but a rule of thumb might be:
8 to 10 pieces of hook size fish per angler.
- Tuna, Sharks
A five gallon bucket of chunks and one or two chum buckets to establish a slick
- Tuna, Barracuda, Yellowtail, Bonito
One scoop of live anchovies or sardine size bait per angler. (Each scoop might consist of 30 to 50 pieces.
One scoop per boat of small baits. They can be chunked into Small pieces for when fish are around the boat already.
- Bottom Fish
Usually limited to the chum bucket routine as anything live will quickly disperse.
And what are the sources of bait for chum? You can get live bait directly from the bait boat itself, usually a small purse seiner. These are numerous along the Southwest coast of California. Or in some areas you will buy live bait from receivers that are moored up in harbors and get their bait from the seiners at Newportbait.com,or at Baitbarge.com. You may buy live bait directly from small skiffs that use cast nets or bait catcher jigs and keep it in a net alongside or in a well in the boat itself. This is especially common in Mexico and Baja California. In some areas along many coasts bait will be kept on land in tanks for purchase. Chum buckets can be purchased from some tackle stores like or even on-line mail order shops.