Master The Art of Fish Chumming!
Fish Chum & Chumming > What is Fish Chum
On our Fish Chum pages we use the following terms interchangeably: Fish Chum, Stink Bait, Bunker, Burley, or Groundbait.
What is Chumming?
Fisherman around the world use chum as a fish attractant to increase their catch. Anglers create a stinky slick in the water (hence the term "stink bait") and wait for the fish to come, then cast their lines into the resulting fish frenzy!
Chumming refers to the process of scattering fish scraps in the water as bait and consists of dispersing enough burley into the water to attract fish to your designated spot and stimulate feeding. The stink bait draws both bait species and your target species that will consume both the bait fish and your yummy offering. For certain species, this technique is essential to success. For the Florida anglers it means the difference between a good day fishing and a great one!
After you initially disperse your bunker into the water you must wait a short while for it to do its job and attract fish, usually 15 to 20 minutes. Watch the water surface carefully, once you start seeing movement, usually fish approaching, it is a good indication that it is now time to cast your baited hook into the chum slick and get ready for some fun. If you don't get a bite after a short time, you might have picked the wrong spot—simply move to another spot and disperse your offering again.
One word of caution, If you disperse too much burley, the fish will be too busy feeding on the slick and not interested in your baited hook. If you disperse too little, the fish will not stick around long enough to get hooked. Maintaining a "steady light stream" in your chum slick keeps the fish hanging around and allows for continuous action.
How far away does your groundbait's scent need to drift to draw the fish in? This all depends on the species, but sharks have been know to smell one drop of blood per million parts of water. Not all fish have the same sense of smell, but you can be certain it doesn't take a lot of stink bait to bring in the fish from quite a distance.
Fish Chum Pro's never leave the dock without this powerful weapon. The methods, ingredients, and dispersal of chum varies based on targeted species, location, and goals.
What is Fish Chum?
Fish Chum, also called Stink Bait, Bunker, Burley, Groundbait, or Ground Bait, is fish entrails and other delightful morsels that you put in the water that has a fishy enticing aroma which will attract fish to YOU! Bunker is a fish appetizer, teaser, and fish attractant. Stink bait usually contains oily fish parts and blood which release the scent of dead fish in the water. The type of chum used depends on the location, fresh water or salt, and can vary by species targeted. Stink bait comes in many varieties:
- Pre-packaged frozen chum blocks sold in various sizes
- Pre-packaged dry chum, groundbait, burley
- Pre-packaged liquid or gel attractants
- Homemade stink bait either frozen or fresh
- Cut up pieces of carcasses or bait fish
- Whole filleted fish carcasses tied to a line
- Crushed crabs, shrimp, squid, sand fleas, or worms
- A wounded fish on a line in the water
- Menhaden Oil or Milk dripped into the water
- Canned or frozen bait fish
- Cracked corn, bread, oats, cat food, dog food, chicken parts
- And believe it or not, serious anglers will paint squids or bait fish on the bottom of their boats—chumless bunker?
Fresh stink bait is more effective and generally more convenient to use than frozen. Many experienced anglers have their own magic potions and will not share their recipes with anyone. The only way to get fresh bunker is to make your own—see our Make Chum page for more details. There are dozens of ingredients for your fresh burley, check out our Ingredients page and create your own recipe. Need a recipe? We have tons of recipes on our Recipes pages.
Types of Fish Chum, Burley, Groundbait
Dry packaged chum is very convenient, does not smell like fresh or frozen chum, has a long shelf life, and is easy to use. For this convenience you do pay a price. One huge benefit of dry chum - you can keep a supply with your fishing gear and you are always ready to chum. Purchase dry chum in your local bait shop or online, there are numerous vendors.
To use loose grain dry chum, ladle it out of the bucket into the water to create a slick. To use dry chum in net dispensers, drop the netted block into the water and tie it off so you don't lose it - as the chum dissolves it will release into the water column. Dry chum lasts quite a while if the current is minimal. If you are chumming during an active tide change, adding a weight to your chum bag helps to keep the chum in place.
Years ago, everyone would use canned cat food (Kozy Kitten), jack mackerel, sardines, menhaden oil, corn meal, oatmeal, instant mashed potatoes, whole wheat bread, sand and a ton of other stuff to make chum. When we were done, not only was there a mess on the boat, but it took a long time to mix the ingredients and get the right consistency. A few years later we graduated to sardines mixed with menhaden oil.
Then, a company recently came up with a "do it all chum" in a perfectly sized re-sealable bag, and that product has absolutely changed the bait game, as well as chumming up table fair such as grouper and snapper just to name a few. Not only is it convenient, but it is also very effective.
M-80 Marine Products has a line of chum for the live baiter and it starts with M-80 Supercharged Saltwater Chum. M-80 Chum is the latest in chum technology. More importantly, it keeps and holds the bait from leaving the area, a common problem with chum mixtures.
M-80 Chum is not just a single chum for one bait fish. It works on all bait fish in all conditions and circumstances. It does not matter whether you’re dealing with shallow water, deep water, clean water, dirty water, wind or not wind, tide or no tide. With M-80 Supercharged Chum aboard your boat you will be ready for any situation.
Frozen Chum Blocks
The easiest way to chum is to purchase frozen chum blocks, most stores, including grocery stores like Publix, sell bait and chum. Pack frozen blocks in a cooler and keep them frozen until ready to use. Frozen blocks will last an hour or two depending on the water temperature.
You will also need a chum dispenser. Net style fish chum dispensers are the cheapest and easiest to use, just drop a frozen chum block into one of these net bags, tie a line to the dispenser then attach it to your boat's stern cleat, or if fishing from land, secure to an object so it does not float away. Let the chum bag do it's magic for about 20 minutes after which you should start to see bait fish and large species arriving. Just cast your bait into the chum slick and hold on.
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Menhaden Milk or Oil
Menhaden milk or oil is used as either a chum enhancer or on its own to attract fish. On it's own you will need a special drip dispenser to slowly release the liquid into the water. As a very powerful enhancer, you pour a fair amount of liquid menhaden oil or menhaden milk into your chum mix, either homemade or store bought dry chum or a thawed frozen chum block. Many chum pros will put a frozen chum block into a bucket, let it thaw, then add menhaden oil or milk to the mess along with some corn kernels, mix it all up and refreeze the mix.
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Loose dough bait is used as chum to get scent into the water to attract fish. Dough bait is infused with powerful attractants making it great for chum. It's intended use is to form the dough around your hook and cast. But for us dye-hard chummers, we use it to attract fish as a chum.
The dough bait can either be thrown into the water by hand, broken up and broadcast into the water, catapulted, or put in a chum bag, pot, or basket.
The most powerful chum of all is made from fish taken from the waters where you will be fishing. Active anglers will save their entrails after filleting their catch and make homemade chum. Making your own chum is a stinky, messy adventure, but worth the work for the fishing advantage gained over your peers. Bottom line - fresh chum brings more fish.
To make your own chum you need to select your ingredients, add an attractant to make it more powerful and finally add a binder to keep it from breaking up too fast. See our Make Chum page for more on making chum and our Ingredients page for information on all types of items to use in your chum mix. Check out our Recipes page for some cool recipes.
The angler that makes his own chum will sometimes make his or her own dispensers and freeze the chum blocks into the shape of their dispenser. A PVC tube dispenser drilled with holes is a common homemade dispenser. Jump to How to Make Chum to learn all about making your own chum.
There are times and locations where chumming is not allowed, banned, or illegal. Always research local fishing rules, regulations, and event rules before chumming to avoid any fines. Dispersing excessive amounts of chum into public waterways can be considered littering resulting in hefty fines.
|Rules vary by region but most are in place to prevent:||Chumming is commonly Prohibited in:|
Bacteria entering the waterways
Public fishing bridges and piers
Saltwater: Using chum is a necessity and common practice in Florida due to the vast barren sandy bottom structure around most of the state. There are designated area's where chumming is not allowed, so inquire locally if you are considering chumming on a public beach or pier.
FKNMS in The Keys and Key Biscayne: Most activities of fishing like catching live bait or using fish chum for fishing activities is allowed in the sanctuary outside of marine zones. Dispersing food materials into the water to attract fish for viewing is not allowed and carries a hefty fine. This means you cannot throw in food crackers to attract schools of fish to your boat if you are not fishing.
Freshwater: "Black bass, peacock bass or any part thereof may not be used as bait. Live non-native fishes (including goldfish and carp) may not be used as bait, except for variable platys and fathead minnows. Whole pickerel or panfish (e.g., bluegill, redear sunfish, redbreast sunfish, spotted sunfish, flier, warmouth) or parts thereof may be used as bait for sportfishing by the angler who caught them. Whole pickerel or bream or parts thereof may not be used as bait for trotlines or bush hooks or any method other than by rod and reel or pole and line. Panfish less than 4 inches in total length raised by a licensed aquaculture facility may be purchased and used for bait."
Florida freshwater bait that is Prohibited should NOT be used for chumming or to make chum in for use in freshwater or brackish waters.
Other States (This list is not conclusive)
Arizona: OK to chum
Arkansas: Chumming is allowed in all waters except in trout waters designated with special regulations such as catch and release areas, artificial lures only areas and areas where natural or scented baits are prohibited. Collins Creek is one area that bans chumming.
Saltwater: Chumming, including chumming with live bait, is permitted. Tilapia may not be used or possessed for use as bait in ocean waters. Source: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/
Freshwater: Chumming is permitted only in:
(a) The Colorado River District, but only the approved bait fishes for this District may be used as chum (see Section 4.15) except in the Salton Sea where corn may also be used.
(b) Carquinez Strait and Suisun Bay and their tributaries and saltwater tributaries.
(c) Sacramento River and tidewater of tributaries downstream from Interstate 80 bridge.
(d) San Joaquin River and tidewater of tributaries downstream from Interstate 5 bridge.
Colorado: No chumming allowed
Michigan: Allows chumming if the chum is not from a fish on their Prohibited Species List, see womanizing/dnrfishing
Minnesota: There is no law that specifically uses the term "chumming." Instead, they have a variety of laws that have application to this activity which depends on the type of water body, current water quality, weather conditions, health of the fish, cumulative effects, etc. Based on Minnesota Statues 609.68 it is unlawful to deposit animal parts or the body of dead animals in a public water. So chumming with animal parts or whole bodies would be illegal. Based on Minnesota Statutes 97C.325, it is illegal to take fish using chemicals, drugs, medicated baits, etc. Also under Minnesota Statutes 97C.341, it is illegal to use game fish, goldfish, or carp for bait. This would mean that any fish food, corn, or other similar substance with these items in it could not be used for chumming. Based on Minnesota Statutes 97C.065 it is illegal to let any substance enter or be disposed of in state waters in quantities that injure wild animals. So what is a quantity of corn, fish food, or other similar substances that would be illegal?
Missouri: Only bans chumming in trout parks, it is legal everywhere else
New Mexico: Allows chumming only in
the following waters: The Gila River downstream from its
junction with its East Fork; the Rio Grande downstream from
its junction with the Chama River, and all designated warm
waters. It is also illegal to release bait fish into fishing waters.
New York: Allows chumming except fish eggs used as chum is prohibited
Pennsylvania: For waters managed under statewide regulations, chumming with corn or other bait to attract fish would be considered a legal practice, providing that anglers don't get carried away and coat the waterway with chum which would be considered littering.
Rhode Island: Chumming and using corn for bait is prohibited in any designated trout waters. The use as bait, importation, sale, or possession of any variety of gold fish (Carassius auratus) in freshwaters is prohibited. http://www.dem.ri.gov/pubs/regs/index.htm#FandW
Texas—Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande River: No chumming allowed
Utah: Chumming is prohibited on all waters except
Lake Powell. (Chumming means to dislodge or
deposit into the water any substance, not attached
to a hook, line or trap, which may attract
Lake Powell: Chumming is only allowed for taking striped bass. ONLY commercially prepared anchovies and sardines may be used for chumming. http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/fishing/guidebooks.html
Virginia: OK to chum. Regulations can change so check their website to be certain at www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/.
Wisconsin: Here is an explanation from DNR: "Chumming refers to the process of scattering ground up fish (known as chum) in the water as bait, and is illegal in Wisconsin, since it would result in waste being deposited on a stream or lake bed. However, chumming is acceptable if the angler can retrieve the fish attractant/bait after he or she is done fishing (such as fish parts in a mesh bag). Remember that depositing any sort of fish entrails into the water is illegal! All waste should be thrown into the trash, not the water.
So is chumming illegal in Wisconsin? Yes and No, depends on how you do it." http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/faq/
Wyoming: Allows chumming except it is illegal to use corn for bait or even have it in your possession while fishing.
IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION ON STATE REGULATIONS PLEASE CONTACT US SO WE CAN UPDATE THIS LIST.
DISCLAIMER: We provide a brief description of regulations for your convenience. This list is provided as a guide and is not conclusive. We encourage your to ALWAYS check your local regulations before chumming. We will not be held liable for any damages if you rely on the regulations listed on this website.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has created a PDF class instruction for educators called The Stink Station. Anyone interested in learning more about fish chum should read this! The objective of this class is for students tol learn that fish use their sense of smell to detect danger as well as food. Students will also learn several fishing techniques that use scent to attract fish. Finally, they will demonstrate their ability to concoct a homemade stink bait.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has created a PDF class instruction for educators called Catch a Whiff of This. Objective: Students will learn the basic anatomy of the fish's olfactory organs while experiencing and learning how smells travel. As a result they will understand how to apply "smell tactics" to their angling techniques using stink bait.
History of Chumming, Groundbaiting, and Burleying
Chumming for fish has been a past time since man has been catching fish for their meals. Chumming and fish chum, burley, or ground bait has taken many forms over the centuries, and as knowledge is shared amongst anglers, the skill of chumming and chum making has evolved.
Fish chum is known by many names around the world. In Australia and New Zealand they call it Burley. In Europe they call it Groundbait or Ground Bait. In the old times it was called Offal, which is defined as the rejected or waste parts of a butchered animal, the internal organs of an animal other than a bird, these organs being used as food, scrap waste or refuse.
The history of chumming is not documented or known, but as we find facts on this subject we will pass them on.
| Source: http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/
In the mid 1800's grain shipping boats were a great place to find excellent fishing. The picture to the left is in Auckland Harbour showing the docks and office of a grain merchant. As the large ships unloaded their cargo of grain at wharfs, lots of grain would drop in the water, essentially chumming the harbor. The fish would congregate in great number in these harbors, so it was a great place for locals to catch their dinner.
For over 500 years, anglers in Europe have been practicing the art of chumming for such species as roach, dace, chub, and bream, all of which are nervous schooling fish that can be spooked by just one scared member in their school. Intense fishing pressure and a century of catching and releasing these species have educated these and other fish to all kinds of chumming, especially on venues that are fished regularly in competitions, which are very popular. Thus, European anglers have long been searching for a magical chum (called Groundbait in England) that always catches fish. Every kind of bread, grain, seed, spice, oil, blood, alcohol, and more have been mixed and blended trying to find the infallible chum, and the search continues.
The most unbelievable fish attractant is attributed to James Chetham who, in his 1681 book The Angler's Vade Mecum, recommended a chum that consisted of 1 ounce of human fat (found in the surgeries of London), 1 ounce of feline fat, 3 drams of powdered mummy, 1 dram of cumin seed, 6 drops of anise oil, 6 drops of spike, 4 grains of camphor, and 2 grains of civet. This amazing mixture was to be spread on 8 inches of line directly above the hook! Chetham also had a favorite powder, made from human bones, that was to be sprinkled on the moss where the angler kept his worms.
In his 1653 book The Compleat Angler, Izaak Walton noted that the addition of honey to bread paste (dough bait) was irresistible to carp. He also mentioned that tar was a deadly additive to bait that would always catch tench.
North American Indians chummed in at least two ingenious ways. One was to gradually crawl alongside a stream so that grasshoppers would jump away into the flowing water; after the fish became preoccupied with this form of loose feeding, the Indians would carefully place a grasshopper with a hook in front of active fish.
Another method was to tie a dead animal in a tree above a stream; within a week flies would lay their eggs and the maggots would simply drop off the carcass, providing free food to fish that lined up downstream. The food concentrated the fish and, after the meat was gone, they could easily be caught.
In Victorian England in the late 1800s, fashionable men and women had gudgeon (a small goby) parties along streams in the summer. These exciting parties began with the men rolling up their trousers and the ladies carefully lifting up their skirts, and both walking around on the gravel runs. This stirred up the mud and all kinds of insects that were hiding there; hundreds of gudgeon would immediately swim into the mud cloud looking for food. The men and women retired to the shoreline and used little red worms with tiny hooks under a very small float to catch many dozens of fish, which they would immediately behead, dress, and quickly fry in butter as a delicacy.
In the United States in 1931 it was reported that New England Fisherman created a new kind of bait for their lobster traps, bricks soaked in kerosene. Lobsters are naturally attracted to the scent of oil, so the fisherman tried soaking bricks, which are naturally absorbent, in kerosene for 24 hours then placed the bricks in lobster traps as bait. The experiment worked and was used by lobstermen for several decades until the EPA outlawed the practice.
Around the World
Fish chum and chumming are basically the same around the world. We thought it would be fun to share with you the information we found on chumming around the world.
Fish chum in Australia is called Burley. Burleying and leaving a Burley Trail is chumming. Burley has been defined as blood and offal used by fishermen to attract sharks.
Oily fish used for burley includes sweeps, trevally, surgen, sargos, yellow tail pike, slimey mackerel, bonito, silver drummer, salmon, sergeant baker, and yakka.
Common equipment is a Burley Cage or Burley Bomb.
The burley bomb is a popular devise for dispensing fish chum in the water. There are similar devices used around the world. The one featured in the following video shows the Burley Bomb in action. You will also learn from this video several other techniques for chumming.
Burleying for Squid
A popular fish target in Australia is squid, with the Southern Calamari Squid being a popular target. Many anglers use burley for squid fishing, preferring Mullet for the mix base because it is inexpensive, especially in winter. Mullet is great to make burley or chunk bait and for hook bait to catch squid.
Squid are usually located near structure such as patch reefs, mussel beds, sea grass meadows and kelp beds. Squid are also attracted to man made structures like rock breakwaters, jetty pylons, mussel leases and boat moorings.
First set out a burley trail using mullet burley or chunk mullet, or any other burley mix. The burley trail is a teaser that which will attract the fish that the squid feed on such as Gar. Once the squid have arrived, put a chunk of fish bait on your hook and cast into the burley trail.
Burleying off Rocks
A popular way to attract game fish to the rocky shore is to use bread and chunks of pillie mashed up with water and disperse it into the water. Anglers also put bread in mesh bags or burley traps and float them in the water. Bread will attract pesky fish such as sweep and mado's that will attract then attract the big fish you are interested in catching. Yakkas and Slimies are typically caught from the rocks this way.
Making Burley in Australia Video
When it comes to inducing finicky fish to bite, the best anglers in the world are European match fishermen. Match fishing is for money and where the money goes, great technique follows. These contests are usually any species, the heaviest weight wins. They are run while thousands of spectators line the banks in venues with few numbers of fish. If you think jet skiers are the worst menace to tournament angling, try catching fish while crazed fans are cheering and stomping their feet each time a contestant brings in a fish. It's a wonder any fish are caught. The secret is feeding, or chumming as we call it.
by M. J. Keyes http://www.finefishing.com/1freshfish/aahowto/baits/chum.htm
In the United Kingdom they call fish chum "Groundbait". Groundbaiting means literally 'baiting the ground' to attract fish to an area. Carp fisherman are famous for using groundbait. Go into any tackle shop in the UK and you will find huge bags of groundbait in all colors and tastes, sold primarily to Match fisherman. Along with these more expensive treats there are cheaper bags of breadcrumb groundbait in both brown or white colors. This is great groundbait for adding your own secret ingredient like maggots to attract Carp and Bream. It is common to use a catapult to disperse the groundbait into the water. Since groundbait is usually fine grained, careful distribution is necessary to avoid overfeeding the fish. For a Recipe using Breadcrumb Groundbait, jump to our Recipe page.
In the UK they have different names for our common fish or varieties of common fish just a little different. Carp are called Tench; Roach, Bream, and Tench are European varieties in the Carp family.
Feeder Fishing is very popular in the United Kingdom for Carp, Bream, Roach, and Trench. Groundbaits are put inside in-line feeders and cast out into the water to attract the fish right to their line.
In-line feeders come in many sizes. Use smaller feeders in the winter as you do not want to overfeed the fish, just attract them to your hook. Larger feeders that dispense more Groundbait are used in summer to draw the fish to you. You need more chum in the summer because the fish have so much bait available, so your concentrated Groundbait slick coming from your feeder will get the fish to you.
Method or fixed feeder is where the Groundbait is molded around your hook. This is a deadly method for catching Carp. Watch this video for an excellent instructional video on using Groundbaits so your tip will be going round.
In-line Bait Cage and Pellet Feeders
Cage feeders come in many sizes and are used for chopped worm, liquidized bread, ground bait, pellets, and other similar baits but not live maggots although dead maggots can be used.
These feeders are the same as the small cage in-line feeders except they float. Attach them to your fishing line, fill with Groundbait, and cast out into the water. Here is a great video showing the floating feeder in action.
Fisherman in the UK use Maggots as a fish attractant on their hookbait for freshwater fish such as Carp, Bream, Roach, and Tench. In the silt waters and rivers barbel and chub are easily caught feeder fishing with maggots. In-line Maggot Feeders are a new product that attaches to your fishing line so you hook up your fish as it forages the maggots that are slowly emerging from the feeders. Watch this video on how to use a Maggot Feeder.
SPOD or Rockets
SPOD sometimes called ROCKETS are like the Australian Burley Spomb Bombs. These units are cast with a heavy fishing line out into the water and slowly release chum. They are used frequently by expert Carp anglers to draw in the big ones.
Cane Pole Dispensers
Cane poles with small cups on the end are used to dispense chum out into the water. The poles are around 15 to 20 feet long, just long enough to drop Groundbait out into your casting range.
Catapults are used to send Groundbait far into the water, hopefully landing at your targeted spot. They are popular in Europe but hard to find in the USA. Groundbait must be firm enough to form a ball and hold it's shape while to sails through the air. They scoop maggots out of the bucket using the cup of the catapult, then send them flying into the water to attract Carp. This is a very deadly tactic for Carp fisherman, especially if the maggots are alive.
One very common practice is to collect earthworms for bait. In the UK they call earthworms Lob Worms. After a lot of research it has been found that the best time to collect earthworms is in the evening on a warm calm, very wet night. Earthworms come out of their holes at night in search for food. The wetter the evening, the more lobs emerge from their holes. The best place to collect them, and the easiest to see them, is in grassy areas near streets and under street lights. The worms are more abundant here, probably because people walk their dogs here and the grass gets lots of fertilizer frequently. The worms are accustom to the noise of the street and the lights, so they don't flee into their holes as you reach down to pick them up. Use very thin garden gloves to pick up the lobs; these thin glove allow you to feel the lobs and give you a good grip on them as you pick them up. If any worms get broken, leave them, they will pollute the batch quickly and ruin your catch. To store the lobs, put them in a dish tub or similar container with peat moss or other composted material and place the container in a cool spot.
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