What Color Brine Will Be the Ticket For Salmon?

By Toby Wyatt | 08/14/2014

Fishing has been good down here at Buoy 10 for a few weeks now and it’s about to way better. For those of us who’ve ventured out into the ocean to fish it’s more than obvious there are big wads of fish there. I’m talking huge schools. If you go out there you can whack them.

Many of the salmon haven’t made their move into the river yet, but with a ton of fish staging outside the Columbia River waiting for the opportunity to come in things are about to get crazy down here. Right now, we are getting 10-15 bites a day and landing 60-70 percent. I’m anticipating that by this weekend, and especially next week, it will be rocking hot. When that happens we’ll get 30 bites a day, easy.

If you’re coming to fish Buoy 10, or in the salt, you’ll be running bait, like everyone else. Right now, brining baits is a must. We have huge tidal exchanges and the current rips. If you don’t have Fire Brined bait you’re basically screwed. Without brining them, the herring will be soft and won’t last long. It just falls apart. If you keep them stiff they’ll hold up and run well in heavy current.


I’ve been using a half bottle of Fire Brine a day for up to three flats of herring. I also add half a cup of salt and half a cup of light brown sugar. I like to add more salt to stiff it up even more with these heavy currents. Fire Brine works well right out of the bottle, but I like to tinker with it the same way I would with egg cures. We all add certain things we think work better.



If you have at least 24 hours you don’t need to add extra salt. Meanwhile, if you don’t have 24 hours for that bait to soak it’s a good idea to add more salt to speed up the toughening process. I’m using so many baits it’s tough to keep up with the brining so I add more salt to decrease the time.

Keep in mind, the amount of brine it can take depends on the number of baits you are brining, the size of the baits, etc. It’s simple. The more herring you are brining the more brine it takes. And, remember you can’t reuse the stuff. Once you brine something the bait absorbs the salt and sugars in brines, therefore only the dye properties remain. If you try to reuse the color might work, but the bait won’t stiffen the way you want.




Believe it or not the hottest color in the ocean is red. It’s awesome. They eat the crap out of it. Maybe because it’s different, but when we’ve crossed into the ocean they’ve been chomping the red, whereas the river fish have been hitting chartreuse, blue and natural. Those are rules of thumb. It’s what everyone in the river is using. And, do bring at least three colors of brined baits on the water. The fish often switch what color they want.

Editor’s Note: Toby Wyatt operates Reel Time Fishing. For more info on his Buoy 10 guided trips please visit http://www.reeltimefishing.com/.