Learn to Fire Dye Live Shiners For California Stripers

By: Scott Feist

It’s hard to reinvent the wheel when it comes to live bait fishing, but Pautzke Fire Dye has done it. When you thought things couldn’t get better with live bait they do. Not only do stripers love golden shiners, but also we’ve found out this season that there’s no comparison to dyed bait. Stripers love dyed baits and the UV properties these baits have make the bait irresistible.

When the striper season first started I was skeptical if the dyed bait would work, but it absolutely did. There’s no doubt left in my mind that a dyed minnow out produces an un-died minnow every time. To the point I’m dying minnows every night and have for several months. Dying live bait adds an extra 30-45 minutes to my night, but I do it because it’s making me more successful. If it didn’t work I wouldn’t spend the time doing it.

Dying your golden shiners couldn’t be easier as long as you follow the instructions. If you do the shiners will not die and will take color within minutes. What I like about them is you can leave them in your livewell for three days and they don’t lose the color. But after three days they start to lose the color. I’ve had minnows I’ve re-dyed after five days and they take it again.


This season I’ve used Chartreuse Fire Dye exclusively. I’m sure Blue & Red Fire Dye would work on stripers, but the chartreuse has worked so well I haven’t needed to try anything else. Chartreuse is money for me. I’ve done it everyday and will do so for the remainder of the season and as long as I fish stripers.

While there’s detailed instructions on the bottle here’s exactly what I do. I always do the short soak. To be honest, I use way more dye than I need to. I use two bottles of Fire Dye instead of one, only because I’m doing a commercial size batch. I need to do 50-100 golden shiners a day. On the other hand, if you are only going to use a few dozen minnows follow the instructions on the bottle for the short soak.


The Fire Dye Process

Step 1:

Get a minnow bucket and pour a bottle of Fire Dye into it. Chartreuse, Gold, Blue & Red work on live bait. Step 2:


Step 2:

Add 16 ounces of water. The Fire Dye bottle is four ounces. Therefore, you can fill it four times and discard into your minnow bucket.


Step 3:

Add golden shiners. With one bottle I’d recommend two dozen shiners. Once those are done you can add more and repeat. After a second batch the dye doesn’t work well.


Step 4:

Let shiners soak (on air) for 30 minutes. Sometimes mine are done after 20 minutes. Check them frequently. When you believe they are done transfer them to a bucket of clear water. Once you do the minnows will shed excess dye. At this point you can transfer them into your bucket and they won’t be messy.


Here’s a few tips to follow:

*Most important is always use an aerator. They will die if you don’t because of the small amount of water required for the dye to work.


*Do not use tap water. Well water or any non-chlorinated water is imperative.

*Make sure you keep the shiners cool. If you’re water is too warm the shiners will die, whether you use Fire Dye or not.

*Don’t let them sit in the formula too long. Watch your bait. If they’ve been in the solution too long they’ll get weak. Take them out of the solution and place them in fresh water once they’ve taken the dye.

*I recommend transferring the minnows from the dye bucket to clean water before going fishing. Otherwise, it will be messy.

*Use gloves. Fire Dye is a dye. It will stain your hands, although it does wash off with warm water and soap.

*Pautzke’s new Fire Dye is available in Blue, Red & Chartreuse at the following Central/Northern California Walmart locations: Stockton, Oroville, Madera, Modesto, Susanville, Lodi, Yuba City, Crescent City, Turlock, Livermore, Roseville, Gilroy, Tracy, Merced, Chico, Fairfield, Pleasanton, Woodland, Mountain View, Placerville, Redding, Bakersfield (NW), San Leandro, Antioch, Sacramento, Fresno (N), Stockton (NW), National City, Marysville, Sacramento, Clovis, San Leandro and Elk Grove. And, at Bass Pro Shops in Roseville, Johnson’s Bait & Tackle, Elkhorn Bait & Tackle, Wild Sports, Phil’s Prop, Freeport Market and Fisherman’s Warehouse.

Fire Dye All 2017gradient

Editor’s Note: Scott Feist operates Feisty Fish Guide Service. For more information on his guided striper trips please visit http://feistyfish.net or https://www.facebook.com/FeistyFishGuideService.