Tides   

Southern Comfort Style Chum

This article given to the site was one of the best reads in the past five years. If you have not read it, try it.

Good, better, best is our motto when it comes to chum-fishing. Trust me, when you read that there has not been a place too large or too small in which one can search for that perfect concoction. When the target is the fierce trichechus manatus or the West Indian Manatee, there can be no substitute for 2nd best. Nearly a half-ton of fun waits one on the other side of a tight line. No stone left unturned in the search for the one labeled: best. Many miles and countless hours have gone into this pursuit. The chum has been judged on several categories.

Mote Manatee

Chumming for Manatee? We have the perfect recipe! This image (and that was a joke!!!) is from Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. They save more manatees than you could possibly count.

Categories of Greatness

These categories are as follows: thickness, rate of descent, smell and taste. If you do not like the taste then why would they? Sampling in this case is a must besides what other chum can you eat? After judging countless samples, three recipes have oozed their way to the top. The three in good, better, best order are the NY Deli Style, Stand Fair and the Southern Comfort Style Slaw recipes. After many hours of chum fishing for these ferocious fighting creatures, no self-respecting southern manatee thinks too highly of a NY Style slaw. NY Style is just not found in these parts too often. This style only fools the very young. The standard slaw recipe will bring one in if it's around and it decides if it's hungry. However, the Southern Comfort Style Slaw literally has them running on water to get there so without further ado here is the secret of the slaw. Also, it is said that one's choice in mayonnaise can greatly affect the recipes. It's all in how the oils blend and mix well together. Without the right mix, then the slaw sauce may chunk up on you. We prefer Dukes or Blue Plate Mayonnaise because it is the best kept secret of great cooks of the South.

Southern Comfort Style Slaw

Ingredients

½ head of thinly sliced cabbage, ½ head of thinly sliced red cabbage, 1 cup shredded carrot, 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. of Dijon mustard, ¼ cup of apple cider, ¼ cup of Southern Comfort (a little for the slaw and a little for you is not a bad way of cooking)1 teaspoon celery seed, 1/4 cup sugar, Salt and pepper to taste.

Red Cabbage

It was a day like many other days that we have experienced the 1st day of April. Calm winds with mild temperatures and sunny skies. Conditions could not be too perfect but they were. Armed with a 30 wide reel and 50 pound test plus a cooler filled with Southern Comfort Style Slaw, the little Jon boat struck out into the salt marsh. Other equipment on board was a .22 caliber rifle. The rifle is needed at the very end, for that coup de gras. Kinda puts one in the mind of any episode of Swamp People. Additionally, there was the premium bait on this trip because this trip was a trip for record breaking. In the bait sack, there was 3 heads of cabbage and manatee candy, 9 heads of red cabbage. Red cabbage is a favorite of theirs and if there was a manatee larger than 1 ½ tons then we needed to get our shot in.

The Tides and Red Cabbage

The tide was just beginning to ebb in. Once the Jon boat was anchored strategically, chumming began at once. Not only did the chum go over and drifted gently into the salt mash but a huge heap of slaw landed on the paper plate. Chumming lasted nearly 2 hours before they showed up. With little to fear, they usually cruise right up the chum trail just off the stern of the boat.

This gives the angler a better view to target the one they want to take home with them. The 'one' was spotted but it was not the 3,000 pound record breaker we were looking for. None-the-less swift action was taken. A head of cabbage and a head of red cabbage were taken from the bait bag. Large pieces of regular cabbage leaves were tossed into the chum slick. Then, in short intervals, red cabbage is thrown into the mix. If there is more than one manatee cruising the Southern Comfort Chum slick, manatee fights will break out in vain attempts to reach the red cabbage first. As this is going on, just cut a ¼ of the next head of red cabbage and hook this onto the 12 ought Gamakatsu offset circle hook. As conservation minded individuals, we promote the use of circle hooks to prevent any gut injury to these gentle creatures. Flora carbon leaders are necessary because their eyesight can tell differences in object shapes and colors. Stealth is a must.

Slowly the ¼ patch of red cabbage bait was maneuvered through the chum slick. As the smaller ones came up on the bait, a tug this way or that would keep it away from the small ones. The red cabbage bait was guided its way toward the large specimen inside the small bay marsh. Sight fishing is just so exciting and double fun when the right one inhales your bait. Hold on and hold on tight. Most of us know that the manatee is a slow moving sea creature, but when first hooked, these monsters have explosive speeds. They will dump your line at blinding speeds not seen in shallow salt marshes. They have been known to reach speeds up to 20 MPH in short bursts.

With the legs braced against the Jon boat, the startled creature ran and ran strong upon feeling the pointy end of the Gamakatsu hook. We were in for a real treat today, a Nantucket sleigh ride was commencing. These have not been witnessed since the golden days of whaling in which Herman Melville so articulated in the American classic, Moby Dick. The strategy here is to allow the gentle manatee to pull the Jon boat around the salt marsh till it tired out. Then, the 30 wide drag is strongly engaged to wrench in the tired creature close enough for the coup-de-gras shot. Walla, manatee steaks are just about to be served. Remember to protect your manatee. We suggest a double wrap around the freezer steaks. Coming up a little later: manatee steak recipes for grilling.

Stay thirsty my friends, thirsty for life,

Rob Darner



The Online Fisherman

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