SUCCESSFUL REEF CHUMMING
by
Allen Applegarth

Chumming is a method used profusely throughout the world by anglers trying to increase their catch.  It is most effective and increases your chances of catching fish.  However, use the wrong method and you’re sure to catch the wrong fish—most likely an abundance of bait stealers.

OUR RECENT TRIP

We pulled up to St. Pete beach reef (located about 5 miles off Pass-A-Grille beach) to find several other boats fishing the submerged army tanks 30 feet below.    After a few passes to find a productive spot we anchored over one of the structures.   Before baiting up we noticed the boat next to us had a picture perfect chum slick in full swing so we decided to watch the action.   There seemed to more action above the surface, a combination of diving birds and the angry slurs from a few frustrated anglers pulling up empty rigs and unwanted fish.   We watched them bait up, drop in, and pull out in under 30 seconds.   Indeed, the bait fish were very happy campers.   "I could have made a training video from this!"
We offered a sure fire solution to the problem but they insightfully denied and continued about their battle.

Our first bit of action mirrored our distraught neighbors and forced a reply from them.   Several more attempts ended in empty rigs as well.  Enough was enough!    I grabbed the chum bag (pencil sized holes) and dropped in a block of frozen mackerel guts mixed with cat chow—tied a weight to the bottom (2 feet from bottom of bag) and positioned it approximately 26 feet from the reefs edge.   Our transom was riding the edge of the reef so we tied the chum bag to the bow of our 26 footer.    After 15 minutes of waiting we managed to reach the bottom, untouched by the bait fish as they were either picking our chum bag or our neighbors bait—probably both!

This method generally draws the bait away from the main reef and to the bag.  It is most effective if you can drop the bag over another small structure.   This gives the bait more security as they can feed and hide if a predator swims nearby.    When you get a large concentration of bait moving off the reef the other fish become very attracted and lurk with great attention.   This gives you the upper hand by intersecting the path to the bait which is now located off your bow.

Our first anchor produced 6 gags, four of which were medium sized keepers.    The spot fizzled shortly so we anchored up to a pile of ruble off the southern end.   Here we managed to pull in a slue of snapper, however, some came to the boat half the original size—victims of the "CUDA!"   They were indeed hungry that day and gave us quite a challenge when it came to pulling in the snapper.  We hit two more structures and at days end (5 hours on the water) we managed to pull in 17 gags, 11 snapper, and 6 snapper heads—but no partridge in a pair tree!

SUMMARY

Chum the bait fish away from the reef by placing a bag on the bottom, securing at least 20 - 30 feet from the reef—preferably over another structure.    Keep the bag several feet off the bottom to get full circulation through the bag and to make it harder on those lazy bottom dwellers to eat your chum.   Wait 15 minutes and put on a hearty sized bait (squid works well at this reef).
 

Keep your tip up!

Allen Applegarth

 

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