By: Dustin Slinker
It’s ice fishing season across North America. Many of us will be targeting trout, char and pike. When I target these species I make a trip to the local grocery store and pick up uncooked trip from the seafood section. Brined shrimp is my go-to bait for the above species and doctoring them up for success couldn’t be easier.
Not everyone brines shrimp. Meanwhile, I don’t hit the ice without it. Why? Brining shrimp gives me several advantages, the largest being other anglers are not brining their shrimp. The reason I use Fire Brine and brine shrimp is because it makes the shrimp more durable, last longer and most important, it brings color, which helps draw in curious fish. I like Fire Brine because if you follow this brine process properly the brine cures the entire shrimp, meaning from the shell to the center of the meat.
Brining shrimp isn’t rocket science. It couldn’t be simpler. The end result is valuable to anyone who ice fishes. I use shrimp more so than eggs and worms because it stays on the hooks longer. Another plus is you’ll be able to catch multiple fish on the same bait after brining it. In fact, the color doesn’t wash out even after long soaks beneath the ice.
It’s important to bring a rainbow of colors because we never know what color the fish want on that particular day. Being able to present different colors to the fish until you figure out which one is working on the lake you are fishing and the day you’re fishing is essential to success. I’ll normally bring a Tupperware of Natural, Pink, Red, Orange and Chartreuse Fire Brine shrimp. Achieving these UV colors (all but natural are UV) couldn’t be easier.
The Too Easy Shrimp Brine
Step1: Got Shrimp?
Head to the grocery store and purchase uncooked shrimp. To be honest, this works with salad shrimp, too, but I prefer the larger shrimp.
Step 2: Thaw
In a pinch you can brine them frozen, but I prefer to thaw them first because I think the brine absorbs better. On the other hand, you can let them thaw in the brine and it will absorb into the meat.
Step 3: Brine
Place shrimp into a container and add enough Fire Brine so the shrimp is submerged. What color you choose is person preference.
Step 4: Let It Work
I’ll seal the top of the container and let it sit in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before I fish them. This allows the brine to do its magic and enables the brine to penetrate the entire body of the shrimp.
Rigging For Ice Fishing
If I’m targeting pike I’ll use the entire shrimp. On the other hand, for char and trout I’ll cut the shrimp into pieces roughly the size of a thumbnail. You can use the shrimp on plain jig heads, tip them on tube body jigs or on a size four hook. This is personal preference, too.
Editor’s Note: Dustin Slinker operates The Bait Shack in Anchorage, Alaska. For more info on his guide services please visit https://www.facebook.com/thebaitshack.