View Full Version : Brining whole sardines?

08-01-2013, 05:55 AM
Hi All,

Going out for lingcod/rockfish next Thursday and I would like to brine some whole sardines but have never done it before.

Can any of you provide some tips on tips on doing this? Can I do it this weekend and freeze them for a a few days or do I need to keep them in the fridge? Can I add color to them and, if so, do I use food coloring?

Any info on doing this would be greatly appreciated.



08-01-2013, 12:41 PM
Absolutely you can. Honestly though, using some feathers similar to these: http://www.iwesports.com/catalog/blue%20white.jpg and some cut squid will get you great results. We caught our limits in 1.5 hrs. Lings are visual hunters. Jig off the rocks and you shouldn't have any issues.

08-01-2013, 02:58 PM
I copied this from somewhere, works great.

As Iíve already alluded to, the first step in successfully brining baits is starting off with high quality bait. The best brining procedure in the world isnít going to work well when combined with mushy spoiled bait. You want to either start off with fresh bait or super high quality frozen bait. Take anchovies for example. Chances are you wonít be able to get fresh anchovies, but that doesnít mean you have to settle for a frozen mass of bag anchovies. Instead purchase high quality tray baits and then brine them to make them perform better and last longer.

Letís start off by looking at wet brining. This is the method youíll want to employ when working with shad or sardines for striper fishing, anchovies for halibut drifting or mackerel and anchovies for catfish fishing. There are a few different recipes for wet brining, but the process is basically the same.

For wet brining youíll need four basic components in addition to the bait you intend to brine (for our purposes weíll assume that you are working with 3 pounds of baitfish) and a small ice chest to do the brining in. These components are the ďbrining powerĒ (a mixture of dry ingredients), bluing, ice and water that doesnít contain chlorine. If you let tap water set uncovered for a few hours the chlorine dissipates.

The simplest cheapest brine you can use is a simple salt solution. This is accomplished by putting a gallon of ice cubes and a gallon of water in your cooler. To this add a tablespoon of bluing to make the bait shine and two cups of rock salt, kosher salt or canning salt. Avoid iodized salt, as it will make your bait turn brown.

Stir these ingredients and then incorporate your bait. By draining off the water and continuing to add ice, salt and bluing you can keep bait fresh for up to 3 days using this solution.

As good as a simple salt solution is, it can be improved upon by adding either baking soda or powdered milk or some of each. Baking powder neutralizes the enzymes that cause the flesh of the baitfish to break down and soften. Powdered milk is a protein. It causes the flesh to become firm, while maintaining itís flexibility.

The rule of thumb when adding baking soda or powdered milk is to use half as much as these ingredients as salt. In other words if you used two cups of salt, youíd use 1 cup or baking soda or powdered milk. If you decide to go with both use a half-cup of each of baking soda and powdered milk.

Whether you use straight salt, salt/baking soda, salt/powdered milk or salt/baking soda/powdered milk all these brines will keep your bait fresh, firm and attractive looking for up to four days, provided you continue adding ice, brine powder and bluing.

These brines are also great for preparing bait for freezing. Simple soak the bait in the ice and brine mixture overnight, drain the bait, put a single layer of bait in a zip lock bag, squeeze out the air and pop it into the freezer. When you want to fish with the bait thaw it in brine and keep it in the brine throughout the fishing trip.

A lot of folks are confused about bluing. Bluing is what folks used to use for brightening white clothes before chlorine bleach hit the market. Bluing makes your bait look shiny and alive.

Some of the same companies that sell prepared brine powders sell bluing, but as with their brines they tend to be pricey. Iíve been buying Mrs. Stewarts Bluing over the web. Mrs. Stewarts sells three 8-ounce bottles of bluing for $12. For the average angler thatís probably a two or three year supply. You can purchase Mrs. Stewarts Bluing on line at www.mrss tewart.com (http://www.mrsstewart.com).

Okay letís move on to wet/dry brining for trolling baits. Begin by putting your baitfish, be they shad, anchovies or herring into your favorite wet brine for 24 hours. Before removing them from the water put a two to one mixture of canning salt and baking soda into a large plastic bag and mix thoroughly.

Take your baits out of the wet brine a dozen or so at a time and put them into the bag containing the salt/baking soda mix. Gently shake the bag Shake ĎNí Bake style until the baits are thoroughly coated. Remove the baits, shake off excess powder and then place them into a dry zip lock bag and place them into the freezer. Donít crowd the baits in the bag, in fact it pays to work them with your fingers to insure that they arenít touching.

These baits will keep for up to a year. When you are ready to fish with them remove them from the bag and place them into a simple salt, ice and bluing solution. Youíll find these baits to be shiny and supple, yet tough enough for rigging and trolling for extended periods of time.

Bait brining doesnít need to be intimidating, mysterious or costly. Start the process with quality bait, employ the basic ingredients and procedures Iíve outline and youíll be well on your way to success. Yet once youíve mastered the basics donít be afraid to experiment, thatís part of the fun!

08-02-2013, 08:03 AM
Great post canuhover! I will have to try the dry brine and freeze.

I like to use Brine n Bite. It has the same amino acids and bite attractants as the pro cure jels. I do think it helps the bite. I also add bluing and sometimes Bad Ass Bait Dye for colors. I have found a quart wide mouth canning jar is perfect for brining and taking on board. I stack the anchovies or sardines on end being careful not to over pack. I then pour the mixed brine to cover and cap with the canning lid and ring. You can keep this in the fridge on submerged in ice for over a week. The fish are easy to get to and the brine does not dilute with the melting ice.