Striper Chunking Tips
January 1, 2020
Chunking has long been an effective technique for targeting stripers. It works well in 10 feet of water all the way to 60 feet—as long as you can get the baits down to the bottom in the prevailing current. Rock piles, reefs, ledges, wrecks, deep holes, inlets, drop-offs and other spots that hold baitfish and provide shelter from the current are all good places to chunk.
Fresh bait makes a huge difference in the chunking game. Whether you use mackerel, menhaden, or herring, try to get your hands on the freshest bait possible (not frozen). The chunks should be shiny, slimy, and firm. You’ll generally need about 20 to 30 whole baits to fish a four-hour stretch of tide with two rods. Be sure to fill a five-gallon bucket of chunks before you reach the chosen fishing spot, so you’ll be ready to get down to business as soon as you arrive.
Generally, the best times to chunk are the first and last two hours on either side of the tide change. Moving water is important, but keep in mind that too much current makes it difficult to get the chunks down to the fish, especially if you are not using sinkers. Try to reach your spot at slack tide or just as the water is starting to move, then drop anchor far enough ahead of the structure so that your baits will reach bottom by the time the current carries them back to where the fish are likely to be holding.
In some cases, it’s a good idea to give yourself a lot of anchor line when starting out, so that you can increase your distance to the structure by taking in line as the current increases, thereby giving your baits more time to reach bottom. Conversely, as the current slows, you can let out line to put the boat closer to the structure.
Once you’re in position, toss out two or three chunks to establish a chum line and draw the fish in. Some anglers also like to “sweeten” the chum line by lowering a chum pot filled with fish bits or clam bellies to the bottom. Throw out two to three chunks every minute or so to keep the fish interested, but not over-feed them.
By the way, if someone is already chunking at your spot when you arrive, don’t bother to set up nearby, as any fish in the area will already be lined up behind the other boat. You’re better off moving to a new location.
Give each spot 20 to 30 minutes to produce fish. If no one’s home, pick up and move.