Nah, no one really chunks for billfish, do they? Not around here – but if you spend enough time chunking for tuna in the Mid-Atlantic region, sooner or later you’ll look over the transom to see a marlin streaking through the chunk slick. They often don’t touch the chunks, though, since they prefer to eat much livelier-looking baits. Instead they’ll swim through the slick looking at the falling chunks as though they’re trying to figure out what’s going on. The question at this point becomes, will you know what’s going on? And more importantly, how to capitalize on the opportunity?

marlin caught with chunking
This white marlin ate a sinking squid, in the chunk slick.
  • Grab a whole squid – you do always carry squid when you run offshore regardless of the day’s tactical plans, right? Their uses are countless, and you’ve heard us recommend this more than once before. For this particular use, start by clipping the tip of the mantle off.
  • Push a leader down through the hole in the mantle until it pops out near the squid’s tentacles, slide a one-ounce egg sinker on the line, and then crimp a 10/0 circle hook on the end.
  • With an angler holding the rod, the reel in freespool, and the squid sitting on the deck, swing the rod tip out over the water. Have a crewmember pull 30 or so feet of line out from the rod tip, and pile it on the water.
  • Then the crewmember can pick up the squid, and throw it towards the marlin. He or she should aim for 10 to 15 feet in front of the fish. (Casting is fine too, if you have cast-able gear that can handle a marlin).
  • The angler should then allow the squid to free-fall. Unlike a chunk of cut butterfish, the squid has all those lovely tentacles – which will wave and ripple as the squid sinks, giving it quite a life-like appearance.
  • If the marlin inhales the bait give it a five-count then slowly advance the lever drag, allowing the fish to apply all tension until the fight is on.