everything you need to know about BAIT...
is to sea anglers what ground baiting is to coarse fishermen. in the
past it was a messy, smelly and unpleasant business, demanding the fine
chopping of the heads, tails, bones, guts and offal from oily fish like
mackerel and herring, and hand mixing this lot into large buckets of bran.
This was then be filled into onion bags
and the bags trailed over the boat's gunnels, so that the oil and bits would
be swept into the water, slowly drifting down and carried off in the current
with each passing swell. Often blood and other attractors would
be added to the mix, including bizarrely WD40! Bran and sawdust are used as they
disperse finely when in the water, not feeding the fish... but acting
superbly as a scent trail. The whole purpose is to generate a huge
wide oily slick, a massive scent trail that will bring big predators like
sharks into the ambit of trolled whole mackerel baits or from anchored
boats, it would bring skate 'upwind' towards your bottom legered baits.
Chumming can also be used in shore angling, especially for mullet.
Collection: Anything can end up in a chumming bag, but typically it is confined to the remains of oily fish, added attractors like blood and processed fish oil, and some form of fine dispersant like bran. Some anglers add small bits of mackerel or fish bait to the mix, to let this drop out, or occassionally throw a handful of fish scraps overboard. I have problems with this - a) it feeds the target fish you want to keep hungry, and b) it retains nuisance fish like LSDs in the bait area. You will also likely end up with bird droppings from all the sea-gulls it attracts!
Storage: Chumming bags can be made in advance. If you do freeze them allow sufficient time for them to defrost thoroughly, otherwise they will not give off much of a scent trail! You can buy ready-made chumming bags and/or chumming ground bait(s), often developed specifically for target species. This is an American innovation and as a consequence, you have to buy it online.
Bait Presentation: Chumming is not a bait in itself, so what's with bait presentation? Well, it make a lot of sense to think about how you present your bait when using chumming techniques. I know one skipper who, if uptiding for ray, ties the chumming bag onto the anchor! Most skippers will tie the bags out over the gunnels and let the tide sweep out the bran and bits... but one bag or two? Do you throw in a few bits of fresh fish bait? What about a few live and wriggling ragworm left into the chumming mix to be swept out...? Chumming need not come in big onion bags. I know one angler who swears by using a whole frozen mackerel as a lead when distance casting! He says that it is particularly effective when casting over foul ground and works wonders for bull huss!
Rigs or Traces: The rig you use will depend on the target species. It is usual to use a fish bait when chumming, often mackerel as this is the main ingredient in most chumming mixes, but it does not have to be just mackerel. In fact it need not even be a fish bait as chumming attracts predators, big or small.