Capt Scott Hilliard
Since 1946
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Chumming for Blues

Chumming for Blues

One of the mainstays of New Jersey inshore & offshore fishing methods is chumming from a boat. Most of the time the desired species is bluefish when inshore, and sharks or tuna offshore. Chumming is a very effective means of filling up the fishbox, and it as fun as it is simple. The skill comes in proper rigging and having the right tackle for the fish you are after.

Bluefish travel in large schools by size. Smaller blues in the 1 to 3 lb class, medium blues in the 4 to 7 lb class and large blues in the 8 to 12 or sometimes 10 to 15 lb class. Bluefish are very aggressive feeders. It is not uncommon for a school of large blues to start feeding on a school of smaller blues. Bluefish mouths and teeth are designed for chopping a fish in half to feed itself and leaving the other half for one of it's schoolmates.

When chumming for blues the preferred chum is the least expensive since almost any chum will do. Bunker chum is the most economical. You should find a spot with some sort of structure like a chanell or a rocky bottom, and anchor you boat. When you purchase bunker chum it is sold frozen in 5 gallon buckets. You can use a drill to drill � inch sized holes all around the bucket. With this method you should leave the lid on the bucket and simply tie the handle off on a rope and hang it on the side of the current. This way you can watch the flow of chum closely. At first the chum will release very slowly, but as the chum thaws in the sea water the pace picks up fast. Another item to purchase is whole frozen bunker in flats. This gives you about 30 fish to cut up for chunks to be used for bait and chumming.

Your bait & tackle store will have pre-rigged chum hooks for bluefish. These are your best bet, but the idea is to have a medium sized hook fastened to a short piece of wire. Cut the bunker into chunks first by cutting off the head and splitting the body down the center. The best pieces to use for bait are the back pieces. Use the heads and guts to add to your chum slick. Throw these pieces 5 at a time every 5 minutes to get the blues used to finding chunks in the slick. Bait your hook with a piece of the back, concealing the entire hook in the chunk, then casting it into the slick. Sometimes you may want to use split-shots or small line sinkers to keep the chunk off of the surface, especially if your slick has also attracted seagulls.

Put your baited rods in the pole holders and wait for the action to begin. Be sure to keep the drag loose enough to pull out but tight enough to offer resistance so the fish gets hooked and doesn't run away. Bonito are also attracted to the chum during the late summer and early fall. To explicitly fish for bonito while chumming for blues, purchase some frozen spearing and bait a chum hook with 3 or 4 of them instead of the chunk.

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