By: Gary Blasi
When targeting West Coast ocean, bay or estuary salmon brining them is mandatory. Without brining your bait it will fall apart. Brining is important because in order to properly troll the bait it must be kept firm. Bait in general is soft by nature. If you don’t firm the bait up (anchovies, herring, sardines) the bellies will pop. Brining also shines up the scales and makes the bait look more real when trolled.
Consider this. Without brining bait it’s difficult to troll it at any real depth. This is due to the pressure on the bait. When you are trolling bait pressure and speed work against that bait. Trolling bait at 2-3 knots puts a lot of spin on the bait and imparts a lot of wear and tear. If you don’t brine them the wear and tear makes the belly fall out and happens quickly. Without brining it you won’t have the confidence of trolling perfect bait. More important you’ll catch fewer salmon.
When brining bait it gives you confidence that the bait is going to hold up in deep water. You are trying to make the bait look as real as possible. It won’t look too real to a salmon if the guts are falling out. I brine my baits for several reasons. Color and hardiness are the two main reasons. On a charter we need to catch more fish than the average recreational angler. Having the perfect bait pays my bills, which is why I brine baits in Fire Brine daily.
How To Brine
Place a tray of anchovies (or herring/sardines depending on what bait is available) in Tupperware or a plastic Ziploc. I put them in frozen.
Pour enough Fire Brine on top of the bait so the bait floats in the brine.
Some anglers are happy with just Fire Brine. However, this season I’ve been adding Fire Dye to my brine because it makes them glow like a light bulb. When I’m using Chartreuse Fire Brine I’ll add Chartreuse Fire Dye. With the Blue Fire Brine it’s pretty bright already, but I like to add a few drops of Blue Fire Dye because then the bait is pops and never loses the color. The Fire Dye dyes the meats whereas as Fire Brine brines them while also giving them color. Obviously, with Natural Fire Brine you don’t need to add dye.
I’ll let the bait soak in the brine overnight in a fridge. The baits are ready to fish at 6 am the next morning. Sometimes I’ll brine them in the morning on the boat, but it’s way better if you brine it overnight.
A Blasi Tip:
Oftentimes, I’ll brine my baits in Natural Fire Brine. Then when I’m ready to fish I’ll add Blue or Chartreuse Fire Dye prior to trolling. Fire Brine keeps those baits firm until we can see water and weather conditions for that particular day. Because the Fire Dye is so strong we can add it on the boat and have vibrant color instantly.
Editor’s Note: Gary Blasi operates Full Throttle Sportfishing. For more info on his Eureka area salmon charters please visit www.fullthrottlesportfishing.com.