With Columbia River Spring Chinook fishing right around the corner I wanted to cover a topic of discussion that often comes up on my boat. Many people ask “How do you brine your bait for Spring Chinook”. Below I have outlined my simple process for turning my frozen herring into fish catching machines. Keep in mind that I use a very simple approach that gives me consistent success day in day out.
Various scents (optional)
The first step is buying quality herring and prepping it for the brine. Make sure to buy quality herring! By quality I mean packages that are blood free, have clear eyes, and have most scales intact. One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to brine up bait that is of sub-par quality. Always remember that it takes good bait to make good bait. Don’t fish crappy bait!
After removing the package from the freezer it is best to cut one side of the package open to let air in. This removes the vacuum seal and will ensure that as your herring are beginning to thaw the packaging does not pull any of the scales off.
Make sure at this point to let the herring thaw until they are able to be removed from the package without having to pull them off the Styrofoam tray.
While your packages of Herring are continuing to thaw it is now time to make your brine. This is a very simple brine that contains only two ingredients, Rock Salt and bottled water. Combine one bottle (16.9 oz) of water to 1 cup rock salt. At this point you can now add any optional scents or dyes to the brine. For Spring Chinook I often will add a very small amount of Blue Bad AZZ bait dye from Pro Cure. For some reason at times these fish seem to really crave the slight blue tint.
Carefully remove the herring from the package and add to your brine. Now put the brining herring into your cooler and keep on ice. This bait is best fished 8-48 hours from when first put in the brine, so brine your bait the afternoon before you are planning on fishing, but don’t worry if you start the process too late I have fished these baits after only sitting in the brine for a few hours and they fished fine, and got better as the day went on. Just always remember to keep your bait nice and cold while on the water!
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