Herring Aid: Brining the Perfect Herring
Starting with poor bait, or handling bait improperly can really put a damper on your potential fishing success. Conversely, if you start with great bait, and prepare it with care and attention to detail, you’re likely to have this piece of the puzzle handled. I’ve said for years that fishermen’s luck is simply when opportunity meets preparation. Handling bait carefully and brining bait properly are important steps in preparation!
First, select quality frozen herring. I want clean looking bright baits, with all their scales, and ZERO blood in the package. If the baits look good, they probably are. One key is buying only vacuum-sealed baits, and make sure the vacuum seal is in place. Take your trays of frozen herring, and make a cut into the vacuum seal. This will allow air into the package, and release the contact the plastic has with the herring, allowing them to thaw without blood being sucked out of the baits. This is important because it lets the herring retain important scents that you want released in the water while you’re fishing.
Leave the herring in a cool place where they can begin to thaw. The herring should be about ½ way thawed when they are placed in the brine. This also allows the baits to come out of the packages easily, with less scale loss.
Take a quart Mason jar and place ¼ to 1/3 of a package of Pro-Cure’s Brine & Bite in the bottom. Add sea salt (close to ¼ cup). The baits need to toughen up in the brine so they last longer while trolling them along the bottom, and salt accomplishes this. This is all the brine needs unless you want to dye the baits.
For dyed baits, add the dye before adding water. Use Pro-Cure’s Bad Azz Bait Dyes to achieve fantastic fish catching colors. Mix in the colors slowly, so you don’t overpower the baits. It takes very little dye to get great looking baits, except for chartreuse, which is a weaker color and takes more dye to get the baits to come out with a vibrant color.
Add water, leaving about 1/3 of space at the top of the jar. The water you use is incredibly important. By far the best water to use is water from wherever you’re fishing, but if that’s not available, use distilled water or bottled water. Close the lid and shake vigorously to mix the brine. Now place your herring in the jar. A standard quart jar will hold about 2-dozen green label herring. If there is any room left in the jar, fill it to the top so the baits are completely submerged in the brine.
At this point you should add any scents you would like to use, like garlic or anise, but make sure not to overdo it. Baits that have too much scent can actually put the fish off. If using Anise, just a couple drops of Anise oil will suffice.
These baits will keep for several days if you keep your brine cold, so place in your fridge at home, or a cooler while you’re fishing.