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My recent report deploring the use of chum to catch trevally on Christmas Island generated some heated feedback. Its all fair comment, in my book. And, for the record, I agree with the first subscriber below, Frederick Meine, about the mistaken tone of my report. It was sarcastic and uncalled-for on a subject on which gentlemen can disagree. Ill be more respectful in the future when Im commenting on subjects like this, though I dont have any intention of hiding my own views.
Subscriber Frederick Meine writes: Wow! Lighten up! Your recent diatribe against chumming for trevally was (almost) enough to make me unsubscribe from your newsletter, the reading of which is a monthly highlight for me. To use the words Uh-oh, dumbing down, and metastasize in the report before inviting us readers to make up our own minds leaves very little room for reasoned discourse. Over the years, I have enjoyed reading many articles on fishing out of Key West for tuna and king mackerel over the reefs and wrecks. In fact, I chose a wonderful captain in that area on the basis of an Angling Report article. My father and I spent many days chasing blackfins via the standard Keys method of chumming with pilchards and then targeting the tuna with 10-wt. fly rods. This didnt feel like we were dumbing down anything, and I never felt like a rank amateur when I was finally able to land one of the tuna. Similarly, I bet most, if not all, of your readers have spent many a day chumming in one form or another. You mentioned several of the species for which it is common practice, and I can, off the top of my head, think of many more. In addition, the admittedly unscientific idea that chumming will ruin a flat seems melodramatic at best and sensationalist at worst. Its a big ocean, Mr. Causey, and I struggle to believe that a few fishermen can dramatically alter the ecosystem with a few buckets of chum. Finally, I have always thought The Angling Report is at its best when it provides us readers with objective evaluations of new places to visit and new species to target. I am far less interested in reading about artificially constructed debates or controversies. I implore you to stick to what you and your absolutely wonderful publication do best.
John T. Dillard writes: I am on board with Howard McKinney, who is opposed to chumming on Christmas Island. Christmas Island is such a unique venue that operators should not cheapen the experience with chumming. I have lost a good number of flies and lines over the years to trevally that were hungry enough to hit a light-leadered bonefish fly. And the experience of trying to get a trevally out of the swell in London Channel! You make a long cast and retrieve like hell just to see a trevally charge down with his back clear out of the water. These experiences should not be lost to cheap tactics such as chumming.
Subscriber Fred Sveetz writes: Done it, not in favor of it. I hooked a huge trevally once on a flesh fly tied with rabbit strips. Its indeed very hard to hook them on streamers once they are keyed into chunks of chum. I have caught enough of them on random flats with streamers to be happy with that way of catching trevally. If you are a bait fisherman, thats fine. But if you are a fly fisherperson I say, No. Next step down the slippery slope is dynamite.
Subscriber Mark Moeller writes: There is some terrific trevally action with chum on the south end of the island. We saw many in the 60- to 100-pound range. We hooked about 15 or 16 but caught only two. The trevally would streak out about 75 yards off the end of the reef. You could feel your line rubbing on the coral and then – snap! This action on the outside ocean flats could not be had without chumming. I think it is not that different from chumming for roosters or mahi-mahi in the Sea of Cortez or trolling ballyhoo and teaser plugs for sails. The technique of bait-and-switch is well established. The concern really, then, is where chu