hunking bait is smelly, dirty and messy but gamefish love chunks. The points below apply to any bait; Menhaden (commonly called Bunker, Mossbunker, Pogy), Mackeral, Herring, Anchovy or whatever is prevalent in your waters. Keyword in that sentence is fresh, not fresh two or three days ago. Always go out of your way to get and use fresh bait!

Atlantic Menhaden
  • Sharp knife required!

  • Depending on the size of the bait you should slice it into four or five pieces. Some fishermen believe the head chunk is best but in my experience it makes no difference. When you use the head chunk I prefer placing the hook at the cut end. Not through the jaw, eye socket etc. My experience is that I get more hook sets but that's not a "rule."

  • Do NOT toss the guts - an old trick is to use a small rubber band to hold the "blood and guts" in place. The fluids will spread out in the water and attract fish.

  • When fishing from a boat with a conventional reel set the clicker to the ON position or with a very light drag setting. Spinning reel try it with the bail open or a light drag if the drift is too fast.
    Fishing from the surf, a jetty, pier or other fixed position, a light drag setting works best (also see bait feeder spinning reels such as a Penn Slammer Live Liner or Shimano Baitrunner D). Conventional reel, free spool and use the reel clicker.

  • Fish Finder Slider rigs without orange “floatie thingies” are good especially with Circle hooks.

    Chunking with Fish Finder Slider Rigs Leader Lengths Optimum Length
    Boat 30 to 60 inches 36 inches
    Surf - Pier - Jetty - Fixed Position 6 to 30 inches 24 inches

  • Chunks get washed out after 20 minutes or so. Cut your old chunk into smaller bits as chum and re-bait with a new piece of “blood & guts.”

  • High Low Rig with Bunker Chunks
  • Hooks: If you are going to use a standard “J” type hook such as a Baitholder or Octopus make sure they are big enough so that the barb is fully exposed. If necessary pierce your bait with your knife to get the hook barb exposed. Refer to Rig picture on right. This is doubly important with a Circle hook or you will miss fish so use large circles. Size 6/0 baitholder up to 10/0 Octopus hooks are not too big.

  • Circle Hooks are designed to catch the fish’s lip. Do not “set the hook” when a pick up is detected. You will either pull the bait out or end up falling flat on your keyster. The fish must make a turn away from you and swim off. You have to be patient, let the fish run off with the chunk and then either throw your reel in gear or apply full pressure. Fishing from a boat, Circles are perfect.

  • Line Weight: Make sure you are using decent weight line. Chunking with 12 or 14 pound line is foolish. You can get by with 20 pound line as long as you are using Circle hooks. With regular "J" hooks you want to hit that fish so hard you cross its eyes, 30 or 40 or 50, up to 60 pound mono is the ticket. More info at Baitfishing, Let's Get Serious, The Fine Line between Fish and Man

  • Tail Chunk: The tail chunk is pretty much worthless. Use it if Bluefish for any other gamefish that normally attack baitfish from the tail fin are present.

  • Remember there are no rules so experiment!


Click on a hook image to display size chart.
Gamakatsu Circle Gamakatus Inline Circle Octopus
Owner SS Inline Circle Owner Super Mutu Circle Baitholder
Special thanks to Jess Pierce of New Jersey for the fresh Atlantic Menhaden images on this page.
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  • "Slap Shot" Bait Rigs
  • Double "Slap Shot" Bait Rigs
  • Trophy™  Fish Finder Bait Rigs
  • Big Game Rigs
  • Pelagic Chunking Rig