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September 16, 2013

Chunking Techniques for Tuna

Three experts reveal their chunking methods for chumming up tunas.

If You Chum, They Will Come

The long run itself is reason enough to stay the night and fish — it’s also the time when tuna respond to chumming the most successfully.

During the last daylight hours, Capt. Jack Sprengel, of Point Judith, Rhode Island, looks for birds such as shearwaters, which rely on predators to push baitfish to the surface. He’ll also mark squid and baitfish in the top 200 feet of the water column on his depth finder.

Fishing southeastern Australia, Al McGlashan marks tuna on his sounder.

“We set the sounder to read the top 60 fathoms when chunking. More often than not, we’ll pick up the tuna sitting down below the thermocline. Then they’ll come up the chum trail.”

Once you’ve found tuna, both drifting and anchoring at night work. Bender brings 1,800 feet of anchor line (plus 600 feet of backup) to stay in one place while he’s chunking.

Sprengel chunks fresh mackerel or herring while he’s drifting.

“We will ‘blast’ a five-gallon bucket of chum out when the fish start to show,” says Sprengel. “Once we recognize the direction of the drift, we’ll cover 2 miles, then run back and start the drift over. Don’t go 40 minutes without a bite.”

Sprengel cuts the chum into 1-inch pieces. The best herring baitfish — the choice baits — are saved for hooked baits. He slits the belly, threads the line through the mouth and out the stomach, then ties on a live-bait hook. He leaves some hook exposed, and stitches the belly and mouth shut to stop unwanted spin in the water.

Another critical factor to keep baitfish, squid and tuna surrounding the boat at night calls for deploying an underwater light. Sprengel keeps his Hydro Glow on the boat side facing up-sea so nothing slips underneath the boat while drifting.