Breaking News From The Bait Lab: Making Dual Colored Herring And Anchovies For More Ocean Kings!

Written By: Cal Kellogg, August 7, 2012
Species: Saltwater Salmon

Every year there’s a lot of effort involved in creating innovative color/attractants. Honestly, sometimes I think these are more for the fishermen than the fish. Meanwhile, creativity and innovation brings exciting opportunities.

Consider flashers. How many options are currently on the market? And, what about others that anglers have in their mind, but haven’t built yet. There’s an endless amount. The reality is most of them work to some degree. Some outperform, others squander. As fishermen, we constantly aim to improve baits. We invest money and experiment to make our system proficient only to retool the following season. We learn, apply and improve.

Similar to the way guys tweak flashers, I alter bait. I spent countless hours in The Bait Lab mixing formulas and constantly find new ways to achieve color and scent combinations that I believe convince fish to bite more frequently. However, not everyone wants to mix and blend salts, sugars, scents, etc. This spring, after discovering Pautzke’s Fire Brine, I’ve been able to spend less time in the lab and more time on the water. Fire Brine makes brining herring almost too easy.

To get a quality herring with exceptional color you should follow a few basic rules. And, it is this simple. Fire Brine is a pre-mixed formula. Simply choose the color you’d like your herring to be and pour a half bottle of that color brine into a Ziploc bag with the herring. Seal the bag and the brine does the rest.

I like to keep my herring in Fire Brine at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours. Then, I put them in the bait fridge overnight for another 8 to 12 hours. Now they’re done. You have great color and firmness, which makes for durable baits that fish well. By the way, if you were hoping for UV on your herring, it comes standard in Fire Brine. There’s no need to add any.

Here’s where my Bait Lab comes in. We’ve recognized the advantages of multi-colored flashers. How about creating herring (or sardines, anchovies, alewifes) that have the ability to flash two colors instead of one? Whether they are plugged cut or placed in a helmet, every rotation/ roll gives off dual color attraction.

It’s obvious that if we take herring or anchovies and simply soak one side in Fire Brine it’s not going to cure the whole herring. Therefore, to make sure my herring or anchovies cure completely I pre-soak them in Natural Fire Brine. At this time, I also add Fire Power (krill powder) and any other scents I may choose. I soak them for eight hours at room or garage temperature to ensure the herring are completely cured before moving on. The first couple hours I move the gallon Ziploc around gently every 15 minutes to mix up the brine and krill powder.

Once I’ve poured enough Fire Brine I cover the containers with lids. The lids ensure moister stays in and on top of the exposed skin. If they are left uncovered the exposed herring may dry on the exposed side. For a strong color transfer and to allow the color to absorb into the meat let the herring soak for another 6 to 8 hours.

When attempting to create bait that has a natural shine on one side and the other side colored up, I’m done. These baits are ready to fish. Take them out of the brine and place them in a bait container. Or, if you plan to freeze them, place them back on the Styrofoam tray. More on this later.

Here is where this gets interesting. Creating baits with color on one side is easy. To get a bait painted with different colors on either side simply color one side and then repeat the process on the other side with an alternative color.

Imagine as these baits are fished and rigged properly the roll of the bait will give off a constant state of flash as they transition from dark to light. This can be accomplished with any color combo. I believe red and chartreuse (along with many others) would be a definite winner. One other point…the red and chartreuse are the strongest UV colors of Fire Brine. Shhhh, keep that one to yourself.

These are obviously not baits that you cure the night before fishing. Plan ahead and give yourself a couple days to complete this bait preparation. Sometimes fish always bite. At times when the fish play hard to get, to be successful it comes down to preparation and trying something different.

Special Note: I had mentioned before about freezing. You can refreeze herring. I keep the trays for that reason. The baits I prepared for this article I wanted to use in a couple weeks, but wanted to get them done.

Now that they are cured I place them in the freezer for a day. When they freeze solid I slip them into a vacuum freezer bag and vacuum seal them. They will last for several months this way, but I usually won’t keep them that long, though. Usually I cure my herring and anchovies a few days before I fish them and they always fish well.

Give dual-color herring or anchovies a try. It may be the difference when the bite is tough.

Pautzke pro staffer Duane Inglin operates Strong Arm Guide Service and is the co-host of The Outdoor Line on 710 ESPN Radio in Seattle.

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