By: Kyle McClelland

For several days straight we’ve been running doubles on Lake Michigan for salmon. As expected the bait bite has taken off like it always does in late summer. We always bring plenty of brined bait with us. However, lately on some trips we’ve run out of bait and haven’t had time to brine fresh batches. Fortunately, I’ve found a solution on how to save time and get back in the game with good bait in less than five minutes. We’ve done this on the water while trolling Fire Dye cut bait.

In recent years many successful anglers have caught on to brining bait multiple colors for Great Lakes trolling. This is no different than running different color spoons and flies as the bite changes daily, seasonally and with changing conditions. We Fire Brine our baits, but sometimes run out. When this happens I simply take a herring strip and squirt a little Fire Dye on it and while the bait isn’t brined it still gets the job done when we don’t have time to brine the bait properly.


Keep in mind Fire Dye is a dye. It’s not brine and it doesn’t have scent. Therefore, when you have time be sure to brine your baits so they fish longer, are flashy and the scales pop. Meanwhile, when short on time dying your baits is acceptable and will still put fish in the boat. Color is huge on the Great Lakes. You need different color for different conditions. For example, on cloudy days you need to run your darker colors like blues, whereas on sunny days chartreuse is best. To be honest, I’ve been using Gold Fire Dye this year on sunny days. We didn’t use that color at all last year.


Reason being, there’s a caramel dolphin spoon made by Dreamweaver and Michigan Stinger that’s been on fire this summer. I matched it with dyed bait. What we’ve been doing is using a UV green sparkle flasher with a UV green meat rig and putting the gold herring strip in there (pictured in the lead photo). It looks incredible. It’s been one of our top producers and will probably continue to be for the remainder of the summer.

What’s best about using the Fire Dye is it’s quick and easy. When we are going through a lot of baits I can do it in minutes and keep in the game. All I do is squeeze a little bit of Fire Dye into a Tupperware and it takes the color instantly. It looks awesome and works instantly and you only need a small squirt to get the job done. When you see the UV chartreuse or blue in the water it looks crazy and the fish have been hammering it.


Another option we and many Great Lakes charters do is to pre-brine everything in Natural Fire Brine and simply add the Fire Dye on the water when we see the daily conditions (sunny, cloudy, etc). This way, we have a base of brined bait and we can dye them as needed. As with most Great Lakes trollers I always keep different colors of brined baits in the boat, but having the dye makes us more versatile. After sitting in the dye for a few minutes the color doesn’t wash off.


Editor’s Note: Kyle McClelland operates XXL Chrome Chasing. For more info on his Lake Michigan trolling adventures out of Manistee please visit