How To Chum For Sharks




“A lot of times sharks can be a day saver.”

Podcast Synopsis

I recently was asked by a listener about how to chum for sharks and I can’t believe I haven’t covered this subject before. I love fishing for sharks, I think they are a great fish to bend the rod and they are a lot of fun in the Florida Keys where the water is super clear and you can see everything.

Fishing for sharks can be like fishing for any other kind of fish, it can be easy if you know what to do, but at first glance it might not be as easy as you’d expect. Sharks have an incredible sense of smell that means if you use fresh chum you can attract a lot of them. I highly recommend fresh chum for sharks because sharks aren’t like vultures. They might eat something that has been dead for a while but they are far more likely to be attracted to fresh meat.

When chumming for sharks its good to first make sure you go where you know the sharks will be. One way that I like to keep track of this is whenever I’m fishing for another kind of fish and I notice that there are a lot of sharks in the area I will mark it down in my journal and return to that spot when I want to catch sharks (How To Keep A Fishing Journal, Finding Fish Over And Over Again).

Types of fish you can use for chum that you can use include: Barracuda, Kingfish, Jack Crevalle, Mackerel, Ladyfish, Horse-eye Jack, Amber Jack… Oily fish will work best so I tend towards Barracuda and Kingfish. If you can’t catch one of those fish you can frequent the fillet tables the day before and you are looking for the freshest thing, and then you need to put them on ice and keep them as fresh as possible.

Once you have your chum and you’ve gone to an area that you know sharks are known to frequent you can decide to anchor or drift. For anchoring (which I prefer) you’ll need strong current to carry the scent of your chum. For drifting I follow the Florida Keys Style of drifting and will try to get the sharks to come up to the surface. I’ll half fillet the barracuda, and butterfly the other side, open it up, and let that fresh meat hang in the current. With that all the oils and blood will be going out and it may leave an oily residue on the top of the water just like any fish kill would.

You need to keep it fresh so you can take your fillet knife and cut it up a little bit more. If you’ve been there for over an hour then you need to move for sure. Actually, if you don’t see anything at all after 15 minutes or so you should probably move. Certainly don’t use all of your chum, you just want one and you can take some pieces and cut them up and throw them around the boat just for more scent.

As you see these sharks come in, they will come up right to the surface and if everything happens the way it should then you should be able to pick and choose the shark you want. If you have caught a lot of Blacktips and you want a Lemon you should be able to pick it out of the water.

All you really need is some spinning tackle, 20-30 pound test, a piece of wire and a little circle hook. And it is hugely important that you try to get the hook back. If you are absolutely afraid of sharks then you need to be using a barbless hook because there are a bunch of sharks out there that are swimming around with hardware in their mouth. We don’t want that. Check out Handle 4 Dangerous Fish Like A Pro for information on how to extract the hook from a shark and really take care of the environment and protect the resource that we have.

Some highlights and timestamps from the podcast:

0:00 - Welcome and introduction on recent question “How To Chum For Sharks”

0:30 - Why sharks are great to fish for

1:15 - Shark fishing can be easy, but you need to be aware of certain things

1:52 - Sharks and their senses (incredible sense of smell)

2:10 - Where to be to find the sharks (How To Keep A Fishing Journal, Finding Fish Over And Over Again)

2:51 - Using Fresh vs. Not Fresh Chum (fresh/frozen will work)

3:35 - What you could use (barracuda, king fish, jack crevalle, etc…) and which things work better than others

4:25 - Where can you find fish for chum and how do you keep them fresh?

5:45 - The better the current the better chance you have of getting sharks

6:00 - Anchoring vs. Drifting with the chum

6:20 - The Florida Keys style of drifting with chum

7:05 - When you should consider moving and how to make your chum last

7:43 - What to do when the sharks come in and come up to the surface

8:20 - Be careful with the sharks and the tackle you’d need for sharks (Handle 4 Dangerous Fish Like A Pro)

8:53 - The importance of trying to get the hook back (using a barbless hook)

10:08 - If you have more questions email me

People/Organizations Mentioned in this podcast:

Ralph Delph, Kenny Harris, Jose Wejebe, Robert Trosset, Handle 4 Dangerous Fish Like A Pro, How To Keep A Fishing Journal, Finding Fish Over And Over Again

Please let me know any questions that you have or anything you’d like to hear me talk about in the future, just email me at

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See you on the water,

-Tom Rowland