Setting up a drift…
Once you get to your preferred area, slow down and assess the wind and current. Since you’ll be letting the boat drift while creating a chum slick, you’ll need to position your boat at the up-drift end of your target zone.
Note that we said “up-drift”, not “up-wind”. That’s because, while “up-drift” usually means “up-wind”, strong currents and/or light wind could result in you drifting in a direction other than directly down-wind.
If you’re not sure of the drift direction, cut your motor and use your GPS to track which way you drift. Or, start your chum slick and watch the direction the slick is pointing. If needed, adjust your position so that you’ll drift through your target zone.
Setting up the chum slick
Sharks can detect odors in the water at incredibly low levels. The idea behind a chum slick is to create a trail of fish-attracting smells in the water behind your boat. If all goes well, sharks will detect the slick, and follow it to its source.
The Big Freeze
In Southern California, frozen chum is the usual starting point for building a slick. It’s created by running fish or fish parts through a grinder, then freezing the resulting mess in containers.
In the “old days” we ground our own chum, and froze it in empty milk cartons. Now you can buy one- or four-gallon plastic chum buckets in most local tackle shops. Just be sure to call ahead, sometimes supplies are limited. Refills are also available for the large buckets, and will save you about $5.00.
To use frozen chum, the block is allowed to do a controlled thaw in the water. This “hands-off” approach creates a continuous slick behind the boat. which is one of the keys to successful sharking. This is a huge advantage over having to ladle fresh ground fish over the gunnel a scoop at a time.
Prep and deploy your chum block
When you’re ready to fish, cut or drill four holes (about 1/2″ in diameter) in the lid of the bucket. Capt. Bowman recommends keeping the holes fairly small: “You really don’t need a lot of chum in the water to attract sharks. If the fish are there, even a slow trickle will draw them in,”
After making the holes, tie a rope to the handle, drop the bucket over the side, then tie it off on a cleat. If properly managed, a single 4-gallon bucket will last about 8 hours. Keeping the chum block frozen until you actually put it in the water will help.
After you’re done fishing, keep the lid with holes in it for use with your second bucket. If you have chum left over from the second bucket, reseal it using the original lid (the one without holes in it), and toss it back in the freezer when you get home.