What is Chumming and How is it Done?
Have you ever had a small appetizer and realized that it just made you even hungrier for your actual meal? The tastes get your mouth watering and the stomach starts working, making you crave a bigger, more satisfying morsel. Chumming the water uses the same concept. You entice the fish to your area and out of their hiding holes by sprinkling little pieces of food or other attractors like egg shells into the water. These little titbits will put the fish in the mood to feed.
You might be familiar with the concept of chumming when it comes to throwing bloody meat into the water to attract sharks. Chumming for freshwater fish follows the same concept, just on a smaller scale. There are many species of fish in lakes and ponds that respond to the practice of chumming, each with their own peculiarities. I grew up using cat food as chum for catfish in a large Kentucky farm pond. Cat food typically comes in small pieces and it makes a great sound when it hit the water, which always would attract the catfish.
Pan fish can take a bit more work to make chumming an effective fishing method. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes sprinkling bits of rice or cuscus around an area can attract bluegill or crappie immediately. But, as with most things in fishing, patients and consistency pay off the most. By routinely chumming the water in the same spot a few times a day for a couple of days, you will essentially train the pan fish to come to their new feeding area. They will be conditioned to bite!
Is Chumming Legal?
There is much debated going on over if chumming is legal or not. The fun fuel to the fire is that there are fifty states, each with their own DNR to weigh in on the subject. With that said, the safest way to know that you are safe to chum in your lake of choice is to call your local DNR officer.
Now, you might be thinking, “How can it be illegal to feed the fish? They steal my bait all the time.” This is a perfectly valid and logical question. The term chumming refers to tossing small pieces of bait into the water to get the fish eating, like we are discussing here, but the term chumming also covers securing a permanent food source to attract fish. Things like hay bales are used for this and the can negatively affect the water as it molds and rots. One of the other reasons chumming is regulated is because of the overuse of corn kernels. While many species of fish are attracted to corn, most fish can not digest corn and it will harm their digestive system in large quantities.
If you live in a state that does not have any laws or regulations preventing chumming, I encourage you to use food products that are easy to be digested by fish such a cat food, quinoa, or finely ground meat.