Find Out What’s Working to Catch GTA Salmon Now

The salmon bite on Lake Ontario’s Canadian waters has been hot. However, the bite didn’t start off great in late spring due to colder than normal lake temperatures. The season got off to a traditionally late start. I prefer to call it fashionably late. The good news is action picked up almost overnight in the GTA and should be good all summer.

The bite has come to trollers using flies, spoons and cut bait. I prefer Wackm Tackle and Moonshine Lures, but Pro Troll and Spin Doctor boards paired with flies has worked well, too. However, the most consistent and ferocious bites (and the largest salmon) have come on Fire Brine/Fire Dye cut bait. The meat bite has been on fire and will continue to hold its flame the rest of the season.

Chartreuse Fire Brine herring or alewife strips is my favorite when trolling for salmon, but don’t count out natural and blue brined strips. The beauty of different colored pieces of cut bait is matching them to teaser heads, paddles, boards, and twinkie flies. There are days where the fish like some colors better than others. Most seasoned anglers are aware of this and come prepared.

Brined bait serves several purposes. Most importantly, you are mimicking salmon’s natural food source in Lake Ontario (alewifes). You can’t just troll a whole alewife or herring because it would break apart or burst, which is why we Fire Brine it. Brining is the easiest way to give your cut bait color, shine, and durability. It makes the scales shine better, look more realistic when trolled, toughens up the bait and saves you money. Bait is expensive, as we all know. And these strips aren’t cheap. Keep in mind Fire Dye isn’t a brine and doesn’t toughen up your bait. It’s specifically for color. The dye is so strong the cut bait takes the color instantly.

The GTA Brine Recipe

I keep my cut bait strips in mason jars. The jars seal tight and glass keeps your bait secure and cold in the cooler. In a mason jar cut bait strips float vertically making easy it to pick out your pieces versus lying flat in Tupperware. Just make sure you pick a tall jar, so the strips have enough room to float freely.

To start fill the mason jar a third of the way up with sea salt. The sea salt is a toughening agent that works wonders with the Fire Brine. Fire Brine is already loaded with salt, but I like to add more. This gives bait more shelf life and keeps your bait fresh for months, if stored in a cool place.

Now add the cut bait strips into the jar. Place in as many strips as you want, just do not completely cram them. It’s important not to damage the bait.

It’s time to pick your Fire Brine color and have your Fire Dye on standby. Fill your mason jar with the brine. I leave a little room for at least five squirts of the matching color Fire Dye to make it vibrant. For example, you can mix Blue Fire Brine with Blue Fire Dye, chartreuse with chartreuse, pink with pink, and so on. Having that extra color is entirely up to you, but without a doubt it does help the cut bait strips get color much faster, even though it doesn’t speed up the brining process. The dye gives your bait a bling, makes it stand out and allows the bait to hold vibrant color. A squeeze or two of dye goes a long way.

Once you have your Fire Brine and Fire Dye mixed in, close the mason jar, seal it and swish the jar to mix contents. You want to see the salt dissolve. If there is sea salt sitting at the bottom of the jar do not worry. It won’t affect the cut bait strips.

After 12 hours of brining time (or an overnight soak) your cut bait strips are ready to be offered to the hungry trout and salmon swimming in the GTA. I suggest letting your bait soak at least overnight so the brine can firm up the bait properly and absorb the color.  Once properly brined you can keep these Pautzke treated strips in the fridge for half a year without having any concerns. In fact, last season my leftover bait from the previous salmon season was used for ice fishing and preformed well!

We are in for stellar action for the remainder of the salmon trolling season. I hope this cut bait strip brining method works for you as well as it has for me. It has put many quality fish in the boat for my friends and I this season and for many previous year. It is a completely foolproof way to prepare cut bait strips that will up your success on the water.

Remember to play it safe out on the water. I hope you all catch many big ones this season!