January 14, 2004
As all my fishing buddies know, I am a real believer in chum buckets. In fact, we don't leave the dock without one. Chum buckets trickle out an odor into the water currents and carry for hundreds of yards behind the boat. Bits and pieces of chopped fish, squid, muscles, clams or dried blood, decoy all the predators in the area to our hooks.
After the bucket is thrown over the first fish to show in the chum slick is smelt and perch. This is especially true around a kelp bed or over a productive rock on the bottom. Right behind the smelt and the perch come the big ones, the ones we want in the sack. I truly believe a bucket is better than throwing live bait. The big ones eat up the live bait quickly so a continual chum is necessary. Very quickly the live bait runs out. Of course that can happen so fast the fishing trip is over. If done properly a chum bucket can sit in the water for hours spilling out its scent. On some of our shark drifts we can drift for 2-3 hours. Most of the time we can make a 5 gallon chum bucket last for 10 hours per fishing trip. One trick we use to make the bucket last longer is to pull the bucket out of the water when the bite starts. As the bite slows we put the bucket back into the water, which usually gets things going again. These intervals help save the bait and make trips a little longer.
I like to grind up dead bait like anchovies. sardines, mackerel, squid. The bait can be purchased from the bait receivers in the harbor. The grinder is an old garbage disposal. It works perfectly by grinding the fish into a paste like condition. Now and then doses of fresh water are added as the bait goes through the disposal. Also on an occasion dried blood is added to the grinding procedure. The fresh water freezes into solid ice. We don't use saltwater because it wont freeze. The chum is placed into a five gallon bucket then frozen solid. About 4 very small holes are drilled around the bottom of the bucket so that very little chum pops out of the holes. As the chum thaws a "slick" of dust like particles drifts down current. A hole is drilled through the lid and the side of the bucket and a stout rope is knotted through the hole so that the lid stays intact. The other end is tied to a cleat while the bucket is sunken just off the corner of the boat.
There have been times when we have had large chunks and pieces of fish carcasses that we want for chum, like albacore and other large fish remains. The bones and large chunks don't grind up readily but they really impart a great oily scent so we usually put the large chum chunks into one of our bait tanks. (We have two bags off the stern) The normal overflow spills the scent into the water. The trouble with that is, it cuts down on the amount of bait we need for hooking. The "Slick Master Chum Bucket" can be used with the large chum situation to help save the live bait.
The bucket is a large 6.5 gallon size making it one of the largest capacity chum buckets on the market. It has random 3/4" holes drilled around the sides of the bucket to release the chum. The lid is threaded to screw onto female threads on the rim n. A "dog lever" prevents the lid from unscrewing. It runs over teeth like cogs on the lid. If you try to unscrew it the "dog" jams into the teeth preventing the lid from unscrewing. To unscrew the lid you depress the "dog" out of the teeth and the lid spins easily off in a counter clockwise direction. The containment rope is spliced to form a hoop and loops easily into the boats' mooring cleats making knot tying unnecessary. The bucket also has a large elastic restricting band that stretches over the top and further protects the lid from unscrewing.
For the test we cut up about 10 pounds of frozen squid into one inch chunks and threw them into the bucket. We stopped at the bait receiver and loaded about 4 gallons of dead sardines into the bucket. At this point we pounded the whole mess into a paste like condition, using a short 2x4 board. We actually pounded too much as the chum later poured out the large holes and dissipated much too quickly. It took only 15 minutes to empty the bucket, which is much too fast.
Where the bucket excelled was when we started throwing mackerel into it. As the mackerel came aboard we slashed them with a knife and threw them bleeding into the bucket. The mackerel were so catchable we filled that bucket up in 15 minutes and dumped it into the water. 6.5 gallons of mackerel is almost over-kill. Believe me though, there is no better chum than drifting mackerel blood and the nice thing is that there is hardly ever a time when mackerel are not on the scene. I know that mackerel trick is going to produce some mako sharks next spring. This particular trip produces many large calico bass mostly because of the mackerel in the chum bucket.
The Bottom LinePros:
Overall, I think the slow spill system works great but I also think the mackerel trick works just as well. Actually, if you wanted the slow spill system, you could throw frozen one gallon coffee cans with the ground up paste inside the Slick Master and achieve the slow release method. The Slick Master would take at least two gallon cans, maybe three. Besides that, gallon cans fit into home freezers a heck of a lot easier than 5 gallon containers.
We are finding a corner on the boat for the storage of the Slick Master. I'm very sure it will be used all the time.