I've been negligent: we haven't talked about chum in a while. Luckily, I've discovered a new method of making chum: The next time you dunk your outboard's lower unit in a bucket so you can start it on land, pour a bunch of baitfish in. Shift it into forward gear, and stand back. If you're smart, like me, you'll be sure to shut down the motor if scales and fish goo clog the water intakes. If you're smarter than me, you might choose to use one of these other alternative chum grinding methods - all of which have been tested by yours truly during those boring-as-hell/can't-go-fishing winter months.
The Blender. Set it to "chop" and clear skin off of the blades now and again (unplug the blender first - putting mammal blood in your chum violates IGFA rules!).
The Sausage Grinder. It doesn't work as well as you'd think. If yours has any plastic parts, don't use it on fish longer than 3".
The Food Processor. It works well but skin can cause jams.
The Chainsaw. Don't even think about it; the first time you hit the throttle fish chunks will go cart-wheeling 30' through the air.
The Hammer. It works quite well, especially when you need chum on short notice. Smack the fish a few times to crush the meat. Then use a knife to slice open the skin in several places, and insert the fish into a mesh bag. The desecrated body will leak bits and juices, and create a beautiful chum slick.
Guides in alaska deal with supercharged fish like coho salmon every day, so I asked a couple if they knew of any northern exposure fishing tips that applied to fish found in the Lower 48.
Capt. Jim Patchett says to fish frozen fillets rigged so they flutter and spin: Cut fillets into a diamond shape, then run the point of a 3/0 short-shank hook through the skin side, turn it over, and bring it back out the meat side. Drop it down to the bottom, then reel it back up. The off-center hook in the stiff bait causes a great action. Once the fish thaws, switch it out.
Capt. Mike Fenton's favorite trick is using hollow lead tubing (www.berrysbaits.com) rigged off of a three-way dropper loop. These leads are heavy enough to tick bottom but pull loose when snagged. I placed a 1⁄4" lead tube on the scale and discovered it weighed just 0.4 ounces An inch of the 3⁄16" lead was 0.3 ounces. Capt. Mike dresses it out with two fluorescent pink beads pegged above the hook (so it resembles freshly spawned salmon eggs), but in the rest of the country the rig will work best with a Spin-N-Glow rigged in front of a sliding Fluke Killer bucktail, a red Tru-Turn hook tipped with a strip of Fishbites, or a Clouser Deep Minnow. -John Page Williams