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Bait Magnets

 

Bait Magnets

By Capt. Gus Cane

Live bait enthusiasts know you can never have too much bait on board and one of the fastest ways to “black out” a live well is by chumming. Several methods are effective, but soaking frozen blocks of chum is the most popular.

Available at tackle shops and marinas, frozen chum typically consists of ground-up menhaden or shrimp trawl by-catch. It usually comes in 6-pound blocks in wax-paper boxes. The block slips easily into nylon bags with mesh openings from 1/4 to 3/8 inch and a drawstring closure. To activate, simply lower the bag into the water, give it several good shakes to start the flow and tie the bag off on a boat cleat. The current and occasional shake will do the rest. Before stashing the container box in a bucket or hatch, dip it in the water to remove any residue and add to the slick.

As the chum starts to thaw, oil and tiny particles (scales, bits of flesh, skin) will slowly drift behind the boat in the current, forming a noticeable slick on the water’s surface. The combination will soon attract different kinds of bait depending on the water depth and location. Pinfish, blue runners, ballyhoo, pilchards, herring, and sardines are the prime baits attracted by the chum. Once the bait arrives, small jigs, Sabiki® rigs or a cast net can be used to gather the bounty.

Dry commercial chum, typically menhaden pellets in burlap bags, is another alternative. Dry Chum is vacuum-bagged and can be stored indefinitely, so there’s less mess and waste.

Some anglers prefer to make their own chum using ground-up fish carcasses and frozen menhaden or mackerel. A grinder mounted to plate and placed in a stern rod holder can pulverize this raw or frozen concoction directly overboard. Although more labor-intensive than soaking the frozen blocks, this method does work well. There are also products like the chum churn.  that hangs over the side. The long slender tube is filled with fish parts, and the internal blades chop and dice as the handle is pumped.

Do-it-yourself frozen blocks aren’t difficult to make either if a large chest freezer is available. Dry cat food or oatmeal soaked with water and generous splashes of menhaden oil can be poured into quart-size plastic zip bags and frozen. On the water, put them in a mesh bag and soak over the side just like the store-bought blocks.

Mesh chum bags can be bought in bulk and then thrown away after the trip. If you prefer to recycle, however, tie the empty bag off the transom cleat, so it dangles in the water on the run back in. The waves and splashes will scour it clean for the next time you want to chum for bait.

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Original Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle.com

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