Chumming Tips: How To Make The Best Saltwater Fish Chum [VIDEO]

By: Joseph Simonds on April 5, 2017
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best fish chum

It’s fish chum time!

There’s nothing worse than spending a huge chunk of your day looking for bait.

And if you are like most weekend warrior anglers, you don’t always have a pulse on where the bait is at any given time.

Well, to help increase your chances of loading up the live well, fish chum can be one of your best weapons.

So we invited Salt Strong contributor Chasten Whitfield to share her best fish chum recipe and chumming tips.

Here’s Chasten.

How To Make The Best Fish Chum (Saltwater Edition)

by Chasten Whitfield

It’s that time of year…

The sun is rising as you’re driving up to the bait flat, and you see the bait bubbling in pods up ahead.

You look around to see that many of the local charter captains are already there, getting ready to cast their nets while they chum the pods of bait closer to their boats.

One captain loads up his cast net and throws a perfect pancake right on top of the bait pod.

Seconds later, you see him almost struggle to pull the net in the boat because it’s so full of live bait.

One cast. Done. 

Blacked out live well.

best fish chum

A live well blacked out with bait. Image by

As you see the guide pull up his anchor and pull away, you can’t help but notice all of the birds diving around them trying to get a free meal of the left over bait.

Now it’s your turn…

But there is just one problem…

You don’t have any chum, and every time you try to position your boat near the schools of bait, they seem to disappear the second you cast your net…

If this has happened to you I have the resolution to solve this bait issue.

Fish Chum Ingredients

how to make fish chum

You will need:

  • Purina Tropical fish food
  • A bucket (I prefer one with a lid) to put the powder in
  • A chum bucket (for the mixture)
  • Menhaden oil
  • Water
  • Cast net

Notes on this Purina Tropical Fish Food Chum Recipe:

  • When you throw the chum in the water it falls apart and spreads out so the bait can smell it.
  • This type of chum can work on the grass flats or in deep water to about 15 feet. In fact, I’ve used it successfully on everything from shallow grass flats to the Skyway Bridge in 18 feet of water.
  • Call around to your local feed store and ask for Purina Tropical Fish food. I buy it in the 50 lb bag.

How To Make The Fish Chum

  1. Put approximately 4 handfuls of the Purina Tropical fish food powder in a bucket.  
  2. Add water (but not too much because it will get too watery. You want your chum to be a little watery but more like mud). Note that I start by adding just a few hand fulls to the bucket at a time. You want it to be thick so when you throw it in the water it breaks apart and spreads out.
  3. Lastly, you add the secret ingredient, menhaden oil. You add a couple squirts of the oil and mix it in and now you have the secret potion.
  4. Ball it up into small balls and get ready to toss

Throwing The Chum

fish chumming tips

Where you throw the chum all depends on the following three things:

  1. Tide
  2. Which way the water is going
  3. How fast the chum sinks

If the tide is going out then anchor up current of the bait and throw your chum towards the front of the boat so it will have time to sink so the bait will smell it.

The bait should be schooled up off the back of the boat so all you have to do is just open the net on top of the bait.

Fish Chumming Tips

If you accidently add too much water to the chum simply add some more of the tropical fish food to thicken up the chum.   

This chum mixture is great to feed the crabs and shrimp we pen up during the different seasons.

You can keep any leftover chum in a bucket for later during your day of fishing to possibly use again if you kill your bait or if you see more bait to chum up.  

At the end of the day, don’t forget this…

Be sure to discard your chum mixture at the end of the day.

You don’t want to see what this will look like (and smell like) by the next day.

And one helpful tip about this chum is to always keep a lid on the bucket when not in use. Don’t let the humidity get to it. Keep it in a secure container.

Fish Chumming Video

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See, having the best fish chum doesn’t have to be that tough or expensive.

And now you know how the two main ingredients that many of the pros use to make their fish chum:

  1. Purina Tropical Fish Food
  2. Menhaden Oil

Once you get the right consistency, you’ll have no problem attracting whitebait and pinfish to your boat.

Of course, you still need to be able to throw a cast net…

Did we leave anything out?

Any other questions, suggestions, or personal tips regarding fish chum?

Let us know in the comments.

Related Post: How To Throw A 10-foot Cast Net The Easy Way.

Related Post: Inshore Fishing 101: The Ultimate Inshore Fishing Resource.

P.S. – If you think your angler friends or fishing networks would like to see this, please Tag them or Share this with them. You Rock! Pa-POW!

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Robert SearsPaul SloopCraigRobert SummerlinChasten Whitfield Recent comment authors
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Paul Sloop

I was never able to find the Purina Tropical fish food. Did anyone else find it? This is all I could find about it. But the stuff in this article looks like it pellets.


Does anybody know where i can buy the purina tropical fish food? I live in west palm beach fl and u would think it would be easy to find. But its not. U would think by living in a state surrounded by water and millions of tropical fish that a 50lbs bag of tropical fish food could be found just about anywhere. But not in the good ol state of Florida. Its like we live in the middle of the ozark mts. Ive been everywhere and called everybody i can think of and nobody has it. Hell most people haven’t even heard of it. I even tried to find a contract number for purina and thats like trying to get a number to the Pentagon or the white house. So if anyone can help me it would be deeply appropriated. Thank u.

Robert Summerlin
Robert Summerlin

What kind of piranha tropical fish food the type there’s so many I just want to get the right one

Gary Herr

where do you get the menhaden oil?………I couldn’t understand your comment on where because of the wind noise, Thanx

Chasten Whitfield
Chasten Whitfield

West marine and yes it was a horrible windy day :).

Peter Waskiewicz

Hello Saltstrong family & Chasten. Awesome video!!! I have a question can I do this off the rocks/ jetty/ piers? I live in southern New Jersey and when we don’t have a boat we go to the rocks etc… A lot of flounder, Weakie, Tog, Triggerfish, Small blues, Croakers, Seabass, Small Kingfish & Stripers in my area. What’s your thought on them.

Chasten Whitfield
Chasten Whitfield

yes I have seen people do this everywhere depending on your area.

Gary Morrissette

Hi Chasten…Great website and info! I went to the Purina website to see where I can purchase the Purina Tropical Fish food. I didn’t see the product on their website. Is it under a different brand or fish category? They only show food for the following species:

Blue Gill
Largemouth Bass
Hybrid Striped Bass

Any additional guidance on getting this product or another brand is appreciated. I heading to Port Charlotte in the morning!

Thank you

Chasten Whitfield
Chasten Whitfield

I purchase it at Come See Come Save, in Bradenton (941) 748-5965. If you call there they will tell you no one buys this as fish food, only fisherman buy it. lol. here is a link as well–game-fish-chow-50-lb-83983.html?gclid=CIa6jpCDmtMCFYQ6gQodtC0G5w#.WOuMnWfruJA

Hope that helps.

Stan Adamson

Hey Chasten, thanks, can’t wait to try it. So, the game fish chow is the name we need to look for? I’ve been searching and can’t find the Tropical Fish Food. Thanks!

Rob S

Based on the link posted by Chasten, searched for the Purina Game Fish Chow. Found the exact same bag identified in her link at a local feed store but it comes in a pellet form, not a powder like shown in the video. Perhaps she grinds it up or perhaps she is buying something different since it was first called Purina Tropical Fish Food . . . confusing.

Mike Stone
Mike Stone

Where did you get the green tub that you empty your net/bait into?

Chasten Whitfield
Chasten Whitfield

I purchased mine at discount tackle but most of the tackle shops have them. let me know if you need a link. 🙂

David LaPointe

Awesome video. A little bit of Quaker oats added to recipe will give you a little more bang for you buck. Keep up the great work.

Chasten Whitfield
Chasten Whitfield

Thank you so much I will try that!!