Dear Captain " How long do you chum before you toss your cast net to catch white bait? "
On average we wait 20 minutes before I throw the cast net. Even if we see bait in the first few minutes of chumming, we still wait 20 minutes to let the bait ball up. The idea of chumming is to draw the whitebait to your boat. The tide is the vehicle which takes your chum to the baitfish which are somewhere out on the flat or open water area you are at. If the tide is not moving your chum will just drop straight under your boat
Pellet fish food quickly softens and becomes part of a soft and highly effective chum for whitebait. We add it with Menhaden (shad) oil and use the oil in a spray bottle to attract the baits from further away if necessary.
So you have to wait a short period for the tide to start moving. On the opposite side of the spectrum -- if the tide is ripping, that chum will immediately be taken out to the bait. Even when the bait shows up immediately in this situation I still wait the 20 minutes to really let the bait ball up in a tight school. So I always use 20 minutes under all circumstances and conditions as a general rule. If you do start chumming and the whitebait shows up in the first few minutes, and you can see it is already balled up thick, by all means throw the cast net!
Now Here is "Captain Dave's Secret Tip" for chumming white bait
Fill up a 32-oz. spray bottle with Menhaden oil. Set the nozzle on stream (not spray or mist). Shoot the menhaden oil with the breeze or wind at your back. Shoot it as far as you can in the distance. The air stream will take it down the flat and to the water surface. Slowly, shorten the distance until you have a slick at your boat. The bait will follow at the surface to the slick at your boat. This will also let you see what direction the whitebait is coming from.
Once the whitebait is at your boat you can now pitch out some Purina Tropical Fish Food chum to keep the whitebait there. If you don't, it won't take long for the whitebait to disperse and leave the area. I have some other tricks up my sleeve for whitebait, but that will be for a later article.
PS: I use Purina Tropical Fish Food to chum up the whitebait. depending on where I am putting the boat in the water or where I am when I need to restock, I get it atone of three places.
- Tarpon Fishing Outfitters 1500 Hwy US 19, Holiday FL 34691 - 727-942-8944
- St Pete Fishing Outfitter 3450 34th St N, St Petersburg, FL 727-317-4949
- Tampa Fishing Outfitters 3916 W. Osborne, Tampa, FL 33614 813-609-8459
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