What is Fish Chum Made Of? (Best Ingredients)

What is Fish Chum Made Of? (Best Ingredients)

Generally, chum is made of scraps of fish flesh and fish blood but it will all depend on what type of fish you want to put out chum for. There are many recipes out there from which you can use to make it or you can purchase it already made, fresh or frozen. The two main ingredients that professionals use are Menhaden Oil and Purina Tropical Fish Food. Just make sure that you get the right consistency so you will have no trouble attracting fish.

What is Fish Chum Made Of?

As mentioned, most fish chum is made from fish blood and scraps of fish flesh but you can also use something as simple as a can of corn for carp and trout that are found in stocked lakes and ponds. Most of the stuff that you can use to make your own fish chum can be found at your local grocery store, like instant mashed potatoes, sardines, Jack Mackerel, whole wheat bread. All you do is mix whatever ingredients you want together in a large bucket or container with some water until you get it to the right consistency.

How to Make Your Own Fish Chum

Making your own fish chum will depend on the fish you want to attract. All game fish will respond in different degrees to chum. No one technique or recipe is right or wrong. Here is a general recipe that you can use for saltwater fishing..


  • 4 hand full of Purina Tropical fish food powder
  • Menhaden oil
  • Water

You will need a bucket to mix chum in, preferably one with a lid. Put the fish food into the bucket with enough water to make it the consistency of mud. You want it thick enough that when you throw it in the water, it will break apart so it can spread out. The last ingredient you add is two squirts of the Menhaden oil. When you are ready to use it, make it into small balls and throw it in the water.

This mixture of chum will work in deep water to about 15 feet or on the grass flats. 

Chum to Catch In-shore Game Fish

When you are fishing for in-shore game fish like snook, redfish, or tarpon, you must have the right baitfish. This baitfish is pilchards, also known as saltwater sardines. They are small and generally swim in a large school that is near the water’s surface. When trying to find where they are swimming, look for pelicans and other birds diving into the water and the passes. To get these baitfish, you need to get up tide of them to start chumming. This is a sensitive fish and they will not survive long in a bait bucket so keep these baitfish in a live-well. The chum mixture to use is:

  • Jack Mackerel (2 cans)
  • A drop of Anise Oil
  • 1 cup of Purina Fish Food Starter

Mix the ingredients with some saltwater to make it a paste-like consistency and you are ready to use.

Chum Terminology

Main Ingredients

These can be used as a base for your recipe or used alone. These can include:

  • Anchovies
  • Wet canned cat food
  • Herring
  • Macaroni
  • Mackerel
  • Bluegills or bluefish
  • Corn, whole kernel or ground
  • Crawfish
  • Rabbit Food Pellets
  • Shrimp
  • Worms
  • Sardines


This is added to your chum to give an extra zing to make it more powerful. These can include:

  • Blood meal
  • Corn
  • Cow blood
  • Clam juice
  • Fish oil
  • Menhaden oil or milk
  • Attractants/scents
  • Tropical fish food 


These are mixed in to help hold the chum together, to help it sink lower into the water, and to help disperse the scent for a longer time. Some of these include:

  • Chicken feed
  • Bread crumbs
  • Dry cat or dog food
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Cornmeal

Throwing Out the Chum

When you are ready to throw out your chum, there are three things that you need to consider before you know where to throw it. If the tide is going out, you should anchor up the current of the bait. When you throw your chum, throw it toward the front of your boat. This is so it will have time to sink so the baitfish will smell it. If the tide is coming in, throw the chum off the back of the boat.

Instead of using small pieces of chum, you can use chunks of chum because their weight will sink at different rates so you will always have some chum attracting the baitfish. After you have spread your chum, it will generally take 15 minutes before it starts to work and attract the baitfish.


When you make chum, you should just make enough to use for that day because you do not want to use it the next day. It will smell even worse than it does when it is fresh and look even worse. Just dump it overboard at the end of the day. Always make sure that you keep a lid tightly on your chum so the humidity does not get to it. When you are saltwater fishing, the game fish here respond better to ground-up saltwater fish that is fresh.

If you do not have the time or want to make your own chum, you can get some that are already made. It is frozen or fresh-made at many bait shops. If you do have the time to make your own, it is much more effective in attracting baitfish. When chumming, you want to make sure that you get it to the depth where the fish are. 

Fish chum is made of a lot of different ingredients but the main two ingredients that seem to be in every recipe of best ingredients are Purina Tropical Fish Food powder and Menhaden oil. To get the right combination it will take trial and error as every species is attracted to different things.

To learn more about fish chum, check out What is Fish Chum and Does it Work?

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