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Salting Your Bait

kosher salt

Keeping bait fresh enough to use without the benefit of refrigeration or even ice. The system works best with mackeral, herring, menhaden or shad.

Use a cast net or treble hook for snagging bait. A box of some sort (48qt cooler) and head for your favorite baitfish spot. You'll also need several pounds of the cheapest possible non-iodized table salt. Expect to use a pound of salt for no more than five pounds live weight of bait.

Kosher salt is great and is about 1.59 per 5 pounds.

After covering the bottom of the cooler with bait about an inch thick, cover it liberally with the salt. (leave the plug out on the cooler so the water drains out quickly) The bait should look like it got snowed over. Then go ahead and lay on more bait and more salt until you're done.

Let this whole thing sit and drain for 24 hours with no refrigeration. (Do NOT put any ice in there with the bait!) You'll be amazed at how much water the salt pulls out of the bait.

After 24 hours, rinse the majority of the salt off the bait with fresh water and let it drain.

If you're using the bait almost immediately, skip the rinse and just use the bait straight out of the salt. It'll actually stay fresh enough to use for several days if just left covered with salt and no refrigeration.

If you plan to store the bait, place the rinsed and drained bait in zip-loc bags about the right size for fishing trips, make sure it has a tight seal. Dont let it get freezer burn and stick them in the freezer.

If you've ever frozen bait without this treatment, you know that it tends to be really mushy when you thaw it. Bait treated as above will remain a lot fresher and not mushy.

If the bait was properly salted before freezing, it will never actually freeze solid because there is not much water left in it. Straight out of the freezer you can reach in and grab a single bait because they won't freeze together.

Save bait like this during certain times of the year for use during those times when fresh bait is very scarce, like mid-winter. The salt will prevent freezer burn. If your bait gets burned striped bass wont touch it.

Reds, whiting, sand trout, croaker, and the occasional flounder will gobble this stuff up. Trout are usually too picky, even though they love the swimming around type menhaden.



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