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Thread: herring/ bait preparation

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    Member Micky_Ireland's Avatar
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    Default herring/ bait preparation

    What is the steps for the best herring bait prep. I've read somewhere on this forum that herring should be brined or something similar. Is it not possible to use fresh herring or is the brining process used to add further scents or to strengthen the actual bait for fishing. Im quite sure that freshly frozen herring would be adequate ..Cam some one advise on the same? thanks from ireland

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    We don't bother curing the large herring we chunk for halibut and crab bait. But we're very fond of curing our troll herring for two reasons. We never seem to use up all we thaw, and refreezing renders it useless. Cured, it keeps in the refrigerator for a week or more, allowing us to get a lot more "miles" out of our trays. And since we use cutplug herring a lot, the cured version simply stays together better. No penalty when using the cured version for whole rigged herring either.

    Here was our starting point, but in our experience it's too mild for best results, both endurance of herring on the hook and storage in the refer. We're now using 8 cups (a full 4# box) of salt and often omit the bluing. The milk seems to make a big difference in "shininess" of the herring, but the bluing less so. Never tried anise or garlic oil for scents, as they mention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskanmutt View Post
    Plus 1 for Salmon University. Great site
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    Just checked out the salmon university web-site. Wow , what an idea. Priceless. Are the herring just left in the "brine" until they are ready to be used. Do I need to transport the herring in the brine prior to baiting up. I would assume that I could transport quite a quantity in a cooler or something similar prior to baiting. Further , what does this process actually do? I am aware that it toughens up the bait , but how is this done?

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    You have to remove them from the brine to keep them from getting too "hard" or even desiccated. I remove them at around 12 hours and put a dozen each in ziploc bags, then into the refrigerator. To start each trip I transfer as many bags as I guess we'll need to a softside cooler, then return the leftovers to the refrigerator back home. As I said, I have trouble keeping them a week without souring following the original recipe, but they refrigerate just fine for a couple of weeks using my adjusted formula. Longer soak times in the brine make them too hard for my taste, as indicated by looking at the herring between the vent and the tail. If that starts looking shrunken, they've gone too far and don't work so well for bait in my experience. I've tried freezing the brined herring, but somehow the process of refreezing, then thawing, seems to make them too soft even with my heavier brine.

    I can easily manage more than an hour of trolling with a cutplug treated as described, though I suspect the scent trail is diminishing rapidly at that point. Though the bait hasn't torn at the end of an hour or so, we always seem to catch fish right after we've replaced the old bait on our hooks with fresh.

    As a matter of routine I brine 6 trays at a time, then start a new batch when I'm down to my last two bags in the refrigerator.

    BTW- The 12-hour soak time is for blue tray herring. Size of herring does affect soak time. Purple tray herring are best at about 16 hours, while smaller sizes need less soaking time. Watch that area between the vent and tail for desiccation as I described regardless of size, and the moment it starts to appear, remove the herring from the brine.

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    We managed 51 each 9-inch herring this past weekend. I have them soaking in Pro-Cure brine right now and was planning on a 12 hour soak. These are pretty thick and look like they'll be great size for bottom fishing but too big for troll. I think these may be a bit bigger than purple tray ~ should I go a bit longer than 12 hours? We like our bait pretty firm. We've caught zero octopus in our shrimp pots this year so we have nothing tough to keep softer baits on the hook longer.

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    Dunno about Pro-Cure. Haven't used it, so this is only a guess. If it's anything like working with salt, watch that area between the vent and the tail to see when it starts to shrink noticeably and stop. But I'd check the Pro-Cure info on the label and maybe online to see what they have to say about bigger herring.

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    Member Micky_Ireland's Avatar
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    Thanks brownbear. When you decide to make a new bunch of herring do you replace the brine ( that the first herring were soaked in ) and place the second bunch in? Might sound silly but I had too ask !!! It would certainly cut on the cost issues ( although im quite sure the actual brining absorbs a lot of the brine /fluid ) Also , they just harden up and can be placed in a zip-lock bag or similar ? that sounds brilliant ---basically you just take fishing what you anticipate you will need ( am I close )

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    Also , something else just popped into my head that I had touched upon in an earlier post. How much is to purchase herring in the packets like displayed on the salmon university web-site. They look to be in packs of twelve ( very handy too , I may add ) Are they very expensive this way or do some captains / fishermen by them direct ( of boats or fishermen at the docks or similar ) and prepare them selves ? Basically , is there any advantage in buying in bulk at ,say , the start of the season. Can the herring be frozen for a couple of months and then brined as described prior to fishing???

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    Member AKluvr95's Avatar
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    Yeah, I looked on their website and the instructions doesn't really have much information on what I now have come to realize these are "Black" label. By far the largest herring I've seen/caught here. The whales [video link below] were really enjoying them too. I'm at almost a 20 hour soak and there's been no drawing up as you've suggested. I'll probably go ahead an pull them at 24-hours and see how they fish this weekend. It has been fun catching them and now experimenting with the brining process.
    http://youtu.be/FN14oq8C_84

    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Dunno about Pro-Cure. Haven't used it, so this is only a guess. If it's anything like working with salt, watch that area between the vent and the tail to see when it starts to shrink noticeably and stop. But I'd check the Pro-Cure info on the label and maybe online to see what they have to say about bigger herring.

  12. #12

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    When you decide to make a new bunch of herring do you replace the brine ( that the first herring were soaked in ) and place the second bunch in?
    Tried it once and gave up due to greatly increased soak time. Same kind of slow down if you "overload" a 2.5-gallon batch with more than about 8 trays.

    Also , they just harden up and can be placed in a zip-lock bag or similar ? that sounds brilliant ---basically you just take fishing what you anticipate you will need ( am I close )
    Yup, that's what happens. Good stuff!

    How much is to purchase herring in the packets like displayed on the salmon university web-site. They look to be in packs of twelve ( very handy too , I may add ) Are they very expensive this way or do some captains / fishermen by them direct ( of boats or fishermen at the docks or similar ) and prepare them selves ? Basically , is there any advantage in buying in bulk at ,say , the start of the season. Can the herring be frozen for a couple of months and then brined as described prior to fishing???
    They are darned expensive at around $7 per tray locally, and that's why I hate to toss out half-used trays. I was able to negotiate a special price (25% off) by buying a whole case of 40 trays IIRC. My results with refreezing after curing haven't been stellar. They soften up a bunch upon refreezing and thawing. I just cure batches of 6 trays, while leaving the others frozen for future curing. For crab bait and chunk bait it's better to go to the commercial fishing supply and buy a 50# box of large "bait" herring at around $1 a pound, depending on the port.

    Yeah, I looked on their website and the instructions doesn't really have much information on what I now have come to realize these are "Black" label. By far the largest herring I've seen/caught here. The whales [video link below] were really enjoying them too. I'm at almost a 20 hour soak and there's been no drawing up as you've suggested. I'll probably go ahead an pull them at 24-hours and see how they fish this weekend. It has been fun catching them and now experimenting with the brining process.
    I love black tray herring for early season trolling, both whole and cutplug, but they're virtually unavailable locally. Problem with doing your own for trolling is that their bellies are usually full and soft, even after curing. The outfits that put up the trays for trolling net them and hold them live in net pens for a period of time to empty their stomachs, then electrocute them for a quick kill without scale loss before arranging in trays and freezing. I'll be interested in your results with the ProCure, because if it manages to overcome the blown bellies, I'll take advantage of the local herring and do the ProCure. That would be a revolution for me. Keep us posted!

    BTW- Locals who use the big ones for trolling mostly fillet them fresh, then cut the fillets into strips and salt those. The strips are hung on the double hooks inside hoochies. It certainly works well, except in shallow water in my experience. Deeper the kings don't seem to care much whether it's a hoochie or a whole/cutplug herring, but up shallow like we do a lot of our fishing the latter work best.

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    Member Micky_Ireland's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! $7 per tray , that is expensive. ( even with the 25% discount ) Is it possible to buy a 50# box and use it for trolling/mooching? Of course the obvious problem would be the size of the herring. Is there any way to make this work in the most economical way possible? I would prefer to purchase by bulk up front , freeze the lot ,then brine/cure when needed. In the advent of the silver salmon season is it possible to use the same size of cut plug herring for mooching or can we use strips or fillets for the fish. I was curious as to the size of the bait used for them.

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    Are the silvers fished with strips or herring attached to hooks and hoochies and then trolled or mooched? Is there a cut off point ( size wise ) when the herring becomes to big for silvers. Is it possible to cut plug the biggest herring and use it for silver fishing? must be borderline ..................

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    Quote Originally Posted by Micky_Ireland View Post
    Are the silvers fished with strips or herring attached to hooks and hoochies and then trolled or mooched? Is there a cut off point ( size wise ) when the herring becomes to big for silvers. Is it possible to cut plug the biggest herring and use it for silver fishing? must be borderline ..................
    It really depends on what's working, but a lot of people fish silvers with lures only. Spoons, hoochies, etc. You might put a thin strip of herring on it for taste. Trolling silvers with plug cut herring could get expensive...particularly if there are a lot of pesky pinks around.

    We will occasionally do it and when we do, we use green cut, or red whole. Size your hooks down accordingly. Typically we use one 3/0 and one 4/0 on greens. The red rig we use a single hook.

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    Member Micky_Ireland's Avatar
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    Thanks dave for all your help.

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    I like the simple approach...Fire Brine. Dump a few trays in a container, pour the bottle in and refrigerate overnight. I have found no issues with re-freezing the baits for storage. When I do use bait I rig large herring for Halibut and have good success with them holding up to jigging and bottom fishing in heavy current.
    http://www.pautzke.com/products_firebrine.php


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    I've been intrigued by their packaging and we used their products back east with great success.
    The wife and I pondered over which brand to try and we even had Pautzke's in the shopping cart for a short ride around Sportsman's.

    15 pounds of self-caught black label herring brined [pro-cure] and ready for bottom fishing.
    I'll know Friday how they hold up. I'm really stoked about the larger size as we typically cut herring in half for bottom fishing.
    Sometimes I feel like half a purple label isn't large enough and end up doubling up.

    Black Label.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by AK2AZ View Post
    I like the simple approach...Fire Brine. Dump a few trays in a container, pour the bottle in and refrigerate overnight. I have found no issues with re-freezing the baits for storage. When I do use bait I rig large herring for Halibut and have good success with them holding up to jigging and bottom fishing in heavy current.
    http://www.pautzke.com/products_firebrine.php

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    Member Micky_Ireland's Avatar
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    Thanks AK2AZ.Wow that sounds so simple. What's the fish- ability like?

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