Learn to Catch Fish With Live Fire Dye Minnows

By: Kevin Davis

Think about it your plastic bait, jigs and lures are bright. When you walk the aisle looking at fishing lures most of them are bright. We all know there’s nothing that catches more fish than live bait so why not make it bright too? At least that’s what I thought a year ago when Pautzke sent me samples of Fire Dye. Honestly, at first, I didn’t think I’d be able to dye live bait without killing it, but after doing so with the Fire Dye for the last year I’m sold.

I’ve always wanted my minnows to stand out and be bright. For years I couldn’t do this. Meanwhile, I knew bright, natural bait would get bit. How could it not? When you hold it in the water it glows at you. It looks alive because it is alive, it’s vibrant and the fish can’t resist it. Using Fire Dye minnows has become a mainstay for my charters and even though it requires more work than running regular live bait I’ll continue to do it because it works.


How do I know it works so well? A lot of the spots we fish I’ll hook a regular minnow and send it down on a drift. I’ll run it a few times and won’t get bit. I fished the spot without a bite and then first drift I put the chartreuse minnow and we’re locked. I’ve had wicked good luck with them. That’s when I noticed how big a difference it made.


Dying a live minnow is something that triggers the bite. It’s something different, natural and bright. I’m fishing cold water in the winter and these hot colors trigger the bite. I’m not fishing any different than I would normally with a minnow. It’s just a different color and the fish are hammering it.


I’ve caught everything with it: walleye, bass, rainbows, steelhead, Atlantic salmon and browns, and I’m sure if there was something else down there they would hit it, too. Anything will bite it. Keep in mind all game fish eat minnows.


(A steelhead caught while filming Pautzke Outdoors with a Chartreuse Fire Dye minnow last month.)

Let’s Dye Live Bait!

Step 1: Container Up

Take Tupperware container and add water. Then add the baitfish. I’ve been using mostly fathead minnows, but many of our other pros are using shiners and suckers. Keep in mind you want to start with a concentrated amount of water rather than a large bucket. With a bucket you’d need to use lots of dye. Starting with a small container dyes the bait faster.


Step 2: Add Fire Dye

Add dye to the water. Start with 1/3 of the bottle. However, it depends how bright you want them. If you want them bright use more dye. You can use a tiny amount of dye and only the fins and tail will color up. However, if you use a lot of dye the entire fish will turn bright. There’s no need to use an entire bottle though. That might kill them. If you see the bait looking lethargic don’t add more dye. Instead, add a bit more water.


Step 3: Transfer

Make sure to let the live bait swim in the container for a few hours. This lets the dye color them. After that it’s time to take them and put them in a minnow bucket or a 5-gallon bucket. Treat them like you would any live bait you’re going fishing with. I’ve kept the dyed minnows in the bucket for days and they didn’t die because they were well aerated.


Step 4: Aerate

Oftentimes minnows dye because they aren’t aerated properly. Take care of them and they will last, which means you need to put an aerator in with them until you are ready to use them.

There’s an array of colors you can dye the baits. Some take better than others. Personally, pink and chartreuse are my favorite. However, I know others use red, purple, blue and some orange. Feel free to try all the colors and see what works best for you, but don’t be surprised if you see chartreuse residue on my hands.


Editor’s Note: Veteran guide Kevin Davis fishes more than 300 days a year on Lake Ontario and its tributaries. For more information on his guided trips please visit https://www.facebook.com/catchthedrift1/?fref=ts and www.catchthedrift.com.


(This brown was caught while filming Pautzke Outdoors with a Chartreuse Fire Dye Minnow last month.)