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Salting Your Bait
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
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