By Kevin Davis | 08/20/2013

For the last 20 years I’ve been trolling flies, spoons and baits on Lake Ontario for kings, steelhead and salmon. For 20 years I’ve been coming up with my own brine by mixing salt and water. And, for 20 years I though I had it down good.

Meanwhile, after 20 years I’ve learned something new. I’ve thrown my two-decade old brine recipe out the door and use Fire Brine exclusively for several reasons. When I brined my own baits we’d lose the scales and it wouldn’t shine as much. Now, with the help of Fire Brine I get a wicked shine and can fish any color bait. Fire Brine is really easy, takes less time and isn’t anywhere near as messy.


My old bait caught fish, at times, when it held up. On the other hand, the old bait wouldn’t work half as good when the scales came off as when the scales stayed on, like they do now. Fire Brine makes it so the baits I use maintain their scales and the shine. The fish are responding better than ever and I’m spending less time making bait and more time fishing.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed since switching to Fire Brine is the spectrum of colors I’m catching fish on. Some days they’ll only hit the chartreuse and prior to this year I’d never used colored bait. As a rule I’ve found that the bright, sunny days is when chartreuse works best, but when it’s cloudy we see better action on purple and green. That’s right, I’m catching salmon on purple colored herring and alewife strips. I actually just worked up a batch of blue to try as well. Natural works in all conditions.


Trolling bait is similar to dragging flies or lures. We keep 100s of different colored lures and flies on the boat to be ready when certain colors work, the same reason I keep a few colors of bait on the boat. To me, there’s nothing better than trolling bait. It’s a natural presentation. These fish are eating bait everyday in the lake. Now you can put it in any color, just like you can switch out colors of flies and spoons.


Here on Lake Ontario I mostly troll herring and alewives for steelhead, salmon and browns. However, Fire Brine works on any cut bait you fish whether in the ocean or lake. In fact, I’ve seen them selling ballyhoo around here now. It’d work on that, sardines, minnows, etc.

Using Fire Brine on your bait does several things to all cut baits: toughens them up, prolongs their life when fished, makes them shinier, keeps their scales intact longer and saves you time and money by being able to use your bait for longer periods of time.

Oh, How Easy It Is

Contents: Store Bought Herring/Alewives, Fire Brine, Tupperware

Step 1: Drop alewives/herring (any cut bait) in Tupperware and pour enough brine in with them so it covers the bait.

Step 2: Let bait sit for 24 hours to allow brine to work. (I take the Tupperware and put it in the fridge.)


After 24 hours they are ready to use or freeze for later use. I’ve frozen them in the brine with and without the liquid in them. Both is effective. Make sure to keep refrigerated, if you don’t freeze them.


Special Note:

Alewives can be a challenge to work with sometimes. When you use store bought alewives they tend to be soft and need to be toughened up further. What I do is after I brine them I add distilled water and powdered milk overnight to toughen the bait up further. However, when using herring, and other cut baits, this isn’t necessary.

Editor’s Note: Pautzke pro Kevin Davis operates Catch The Drift out of Oswego, New York and guides Lake Ontario during the summer months. For more info on his trips please visit