How to Make Perfect Bait For Coastal Oregon Salmon

By: Kyle Buschelman

The Buoy 10 madness has passed. Many of us Oregon guides now migrate back to our home coastal estuaries to intercept Chinook and coho. This is my favorite time of year. Meanwhile, due to the Internet and social media competition is real in all of our fisheries. I need to an ace in the hole so to speak. In my mind that ace is a perfectly brined anchovy.

Salmon anglers know anchovies are effective. When most anglers are running herring adding anchovies to your troll can stimulate bites and save the day. Keep in mind that on the Oregon Coast most of the baitfish are anchovies or needlefish rather than herring. Using an anchovy matches the salmon’s natural food source.

Let’s cover how I prepare my bait for coastal Oregon success. Fresh anchovies are ideal, but frozen works well with a little prep. To have success with frozen bait caring for them is imperative. I prefer to take my frozen anchovies and soak them in Natural Fire Brine. At the very least the brine helps keep the scales intact, makes the bait last longer and aids it from breaking apart so quickly when trolled. The best part about it is it doesn’t take my effort.

On the Oregon Coast many guides and recreational anglers have a preferred color. Some use chartreuse, others blue and many anglers opt to brine them in a natural solution. All these colors are effective. My favorite bait to drag is an anchovy brined in Natural Fire Brine and touched off with four drops of Blue Fire Dye. Doing so and letting the bait brine overnight brings a special shine to the anchovy that’s effective on my boat.

While brine is important for frozen baits it’s also valuable after you remove fresh baits from the package and have leftovers after a day on the water. Bait is expensive. None of us want to waste it. Therefore, add those now not so fresh baits into the brine and they’ll fish well for a couple days.

Now that our bait is in prime condition making sure it’s rigged properly is also important. When trolling anchovies I run about a five-inch leader off back of a flasher and employ a two-hook rig. Personally, I use 3/0 Owner herring hooks and space them two fingers apart. Make sure there’s a little bend in your bait.

Late summer and fall are good times to target salmon on the Oregon Coast. Anyone who has fished with me knows I troll herring and spinners along the coast and in estuaries. Meanwhile, I almost always have an anchovy out the back when hunting for salmon. Try this brine and you’ll likely find success like we do.

Editor’s Note: Kyle Buschelman operates Willamette Valley Outfitters. For more info on his guided Oregon salmon trips please visit