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It appears that a couple of fishing operators on Christmas Island have bought into the idea of dumbing down the pursuit of trevally. They are using milkfish chum to turn trevally into the marine equivalent of garbage-dump bears. The chum excites the trevally, stokes their appetite, and draws them into casting range. A rank amateur can catch a trevally this way. “Look, ma! No skills or ability required, but look what I caught!”

It would serve no good purpose here to name the operators who are chumming for trevally. It is perfectly legal to do so. And there appear to be some anglers who like to fish for trevally over chum. After all, a lot of sharks are caught this way with a fly rod and no one protests. And then there are teasers used to bring sailfish into fly-casting range. Some people catch roosterfish on flies around Cabo San Lucas, we understand, by casting behind noisy hookless topwater lures slung from the beach by a guide or companion.

So what’s so special about trevally? Maybe nothing. That is up to the angling community to decide. If there is no protest by would-be Christmas Island anglers, the practice is sure to continue and maybe even metastasize elsewhere. One agent who doesn’t like the chumming of trevally is Howard McKinney of Fishabout (, who coordinates the bookings into the Villages on Christmas Island. He says chumming not only takes a lot of the excitement out of the sport of trevally fishing, but it makes the fish much harder to catch without chum. “There is a huge amount of water to fish around Christmas Island,” he says, “so there is little chance the overall trevally fishery will be impacted. But it will impact the trevally on those flats where the chumming takes place. You’ll see – soon you won’t be able to catch a trevally there unless there is chum in the water.”

McKinney’s main worry about the chumming is the risk it poses to the reputation of Christmas Island. Already, he says, he is hearing complaints about it from some anglers. He’s worried anglers will avoid Christmas Island because of it. “That would be too bad because the government of Kiribati worked hard to develop a consensus about ending netting,” McKinney says. “The bonefish in particular have come back strongly. The average size of fish taken is way up. Christmas Island is becoming a hot place to go again. But negative buzz about chumming could set fishing back in a big way.” Don Causey Note: What do you think about chumming for trevally? Is it OK, abhorrent, or somewhere in between? Write [email protected].

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