A Guide Secret: Use Dough Bait To Catch More Halibut

By Nick Kester | 07/25/2013

Using dough bait to catch more halibut isn’t standard practice, but as effective as it is, it should be. In fact, it’s quickly becoming a staple in my area and will become more widely used as anglers realize how easy it is to employ, and more important how well it works.

I’ve spent many years adding scents to my halibut baits. And, while scent is extremely important to all halibut fishing, I became frustrated as many liquid and gel scents quickly seeped out of scent capsules. When using liquid or gel scent in capsules it can blow out within five minutes. I wanted my scent trail to last longer.

This is when I came up with the idea of mixing Pautzke FireBait with my usual scents. The FireBait, I thought, would absorb the additional scent, maintain that scent and also provide scent of its’ own, particularly with the amount of krill (and Balls O Fire egg juice) Pautzke puts in the FireBait.

Adding the FireBait into my scent capsules has been an easy fix to keeping my halibut baits heavily scented. It’s been one of the little things I do to ensure my clients catch fish every time we head out on the salt.

Keep in mind, FireBait is not oil based, so its’ scent disperses through the water better and longer whereas the oil base scent just floats up. Oil floats to the top of the water so you really aren’t creating a scent trail, like you are with the FireBait.

When you are fishing the bottom for halibut it’s a scent game. Some of our halibut drifts are 20-minutes. The last thing you want is for a guy to bring their bait up and the bait to be gone.

Meanwhile, if you add FireBait to your capsule there’s still scent down there on your bait even when your cut bait has fallen off or been eaten off. The great thing is you can take a strike and you know there’s still scent down there. I’m guessing a ton of guys have overlooked that concept.

This concept is ridiculously simple. It’s so simple that so many people have overlooked it. In addition to having its own scent, FireBait absorbs other company’s scents. So if you want to mix it with a Mike’s Shrimp Scent or a Mike’s Anchovy scent you can blend it with FireBait and it will hold.

The same goes for something like Smelly Jelly, which a lot of guys use for halibut. When using a scent capsule a lot of guys take Smelly Jelly and squirt it in, but it runs out quickly. Conversely, the FireBait stays in whereas the Smelly Jelly runs out right away. Now, you can use the Smelly Jelly with the FireBait, which is the best thing about FireBait. The greatest thing you can do with FireBait is use it to absorb the other scents. And, now you have the krill scent and other scents.

Think about how simple is this? You can use FireBait to create other baits. You can apply this to any bait for any fishery. In fact, I’m doing it with anise oil when salmon fishing right now. It’s a different concept, true, but it’s extremely effective and simple to apply. If you are a big Atlas Mike’s or Smelly Jelly guy you can continue to use those scents and get more out of them when combining them with FireBait.

The Kester Capsule

Step 1: Obtain Scent Capsule


Step 2: If not adding scent to FireBait, place the dough in the capsule.



Notes: If adding scent, take a ½ teaspoon of FireBait and place in small container. Pour desired scent in container and stir. Keep in mind FireBait is water soluble so it absorbs or blends with any scent it touches. You don’t need to let it sit over night. I’ll do it on the boat while fishing. Overnight is better, sure, but you don’t always have an overnight scenario.

Step 3: Now that the dough or scented dough is ready, stuff it in the capsule.


Step 4: Take scent capsule and stuff it in the halibut hootchie.


Step 5: Add your herring, salmon bellies or other meat baits to your halibut hootchie. Now you have two scents on the bait. One is a natural meat bait and another is a capsule stuffed with scent. By blending those baits together it works really well.

Editor’s Note: Pautzke pro Nick Kesters operates All State Charters in the Puget Sound. For more info on his trips please visit allstarcharters.com.