What is Fish Chum and Does it Work?

What is Fish Chum and Does it Work?

Chumming is when you scatter fish scraps in the water to attract fish to your fishing area. Yes, it will work as long as you use the right chum for the fish that you are trying to catch. When you use chum, it will draw both the bait species and your target fish to the spot where you are fishing. For many, chumming the waters can mean the difference between a good day and bad day fishing. Chumming is more of a practice that is used among saltwater fishermen but not so much with freshwater fishermen.

How Does Chumming Work?

When you put the chum in the water, it will take 15-20 minutes for it to work and attract fish. Watch the water and when you see some movement that usually means that fish are approaching. It is now time to cast your baited hook in the chum slick. If you do not get a bite then you may need to consider moving to another spot and trying it again. Do not drop too much chum because if this happens, the fish will feed on the chum and ignore your baited hook.

What is Fish Chum?

Fish chum is also referred to as bunker, ground bait, burley, or stink bait. Most chum is a combination of fish entrails and other morsels that have a fishy enticing aroma that will attract fish. Bunker is a teaser, fish attractant, and fish appetizer. Stink bait will usually contain blood and oily fish parts that release the scent of dead fish into the water. Fresh stink bait is more convenient and easier to use than the frozen type. The type of chum you use will depend on whether is it is a fresh or saltwater location and species targeted.

Frozen Chum Blocks

This is the easiest way to use chum. You need to put them in a cooler to keep them frozen until you are ready to use them. Depending on the temperature of the water, the frozen blocks of chum will last one to two hours in the water. When using this type of chum, you will need to use a chum dispenser. The easiest one to use is a net style where you just drop the frozen chum inside, tie a line to the dispenser, and attach it to the stern of your boat. If you are fishing from shore, make sure that you secure it to something so it does not float away. It will take about 20 minutes for it to work.

Dry Packaged Chum

This is a very convenient way to buy chum. It has a long shelf life and does not smell like frozen or fresh chum. It is expensive but there is one big benefit; you can keep some with your fishing gear and you will always have it ready. To use it, just ladle some of it into the water to create a slick or you can put it in a net dispenser and put it in the water that way.

Freshwater Chumming

Although chumming is mostly used for saltwater fishing, some do use it for freshwater fishing. When you chum for freshwater fish, it is most effective for fish that feed on the bottom or are scavengers. Fish that hunt their prey, like pike and bass, are not as susceptible to this practice.


This is normally a solitary fish so it might be better to chum the area instead of looking around the lake for them. The common chum for carp are grains in different forms like boiled field corn, pellet chicken feed, cooked pasta, or bread balls. Can sweet corn is a very effective chum for attracting carp. Just toss a small handful into the water and then start fishing. You can use bread or corn to even bait your hook. It may take a couple of hours for the carp to be attracted to the chum. Some will even chum the area in the evening and return the next morning to fish.


This fish is an opportunistic feeder with a keen sense of taste and smell. They use both to seek out decaying and dead food, which makes up a big portion of their diet. To chum catfish, you can use a wide array of materials like ground fish meal or fish pieces. Just scatter the chum loosely in the water near the deep holes where they might live. Once you have chummed the water, bait your hook with some catfish bait and cast it into the area.


When chumming for trout you can also use canned corn as you do for carp. Corn is highly effective in ponds and lakes where they have been stocked because the corn slightly resembles the food pellets they were raised on in the hatcheries. Just scatter the corn in an area where you think they will be, like around a fallen tree or rock pile, or hiding at the edge of a weed bed. Bait your hook using trout bait or corn and cast into the center of the area of chum. 


Chumming is when you spread some type of fish food on the water to attract fish to the general area where you are fishing. It is a tactic that can be used when fish are scattered and hard to find. One important thing to note is that in some areas chumming may not be legal or it may be illegal to attract certain species. Always check first before you start chumming.

And yes, chumming does work, which is why many use it, especially those that do saltwater fishing. Doing it correctly with the right chum will almost guarantee that you will catch fish. Make sure that you cover the entire water column with chum and you should also try to thicken the chum slick. Chumming is a good way to get some of the more finicky fish close enough to be caught along with helping to gather the more solitary fish together in one area.

Fish Chum works really well around buoys. Read our other article on How to Successfully Fish Around Buoys.

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