Try These Easy Steps for Perfect Springer Bait

It’s that time of year and we are already catching springers! During the early part of the season I prefer trolling herring. I consider this to be from now through mid April while the water temps are still cool. Right now, they are only 44-48 degrees. Meanwhile, when the river warms above 58 I start running spinners, prawn spinners etc, which will touch upon later. My clients will tell you I always prefer running a nice cut plug herring.
My approach is very simple. I want durable, super shinny baits and Pautzke Fire Brine does this for me. Adding the bait to the brine takes the guesswork out of the brining process. As you know there’s many color options available, but in general I stick with Natural Fire Brine and use the Fire Dye to add color on demand. Many colors are effective when brining bait. For me, natural, blue and chartreuse are the mainstays.
I get asked all the time, what is my brine? Or how do you brine your herring. Here is the simple program that I use:
The day before I fish I thaw out my trays of herring first before putting them in brine. I think thawed herring absorb brine way better than frozen herring. By thawing them first it shortens the brine time. They will ready in morning and I also won’t need to add a bunch of salt to help tighten baits up.
I make 3 batches of bait each day. Having different scents, colors and combinations can oftentimes be critical for success. If I finish guiding at 5pm, I’ll start brining then so the bait can stay in the brine for almost 12 hours.
1) Blue Herring
Natural Fire Brined herring with a couple drops of Blue Fire Dye. You don’t need to add a lot of the dye. This stuff is so potent a little goes a long way. If you haven’t tried adding the Fire Dye do so. It really makes those scales pop and shine.
2) Natural Herring with Anise
Natural Fire Brined herring with anise.  I do use a liberal dose of anise as springers react positively to this flavor. I add Atlas Mike’s Anise Lunker Oil at the beginning of the brining process.
3) Chartreuse Herring
For this one I use Natural Fire Brine herring as my base and then add 5-6 big squirts of Chartreuse Fire Dye. You may ask why I do prefer over Chartreuse Fire Brine? Both work well. However, adding the Fire Dye lets you control how much color you want. If I brine the herring in chartreuse brine the bait will be chartreuse. I prefer my bait to keep a natural shine, but have some chartreuse color to it, which is why adding squirts of the dye suits me better.
Small details matter when it comes to landing spring Chinook and it starts with having good bait. Springers are the most coveted salmon in the Pacific Northwest. It is always a challenge to produce success chasing them daily, but as a guide I’m expected to catch them every day I’m out.  These details will help you – just like they help me.