Home Fishing Tips & Advice How to Fish with Herring as Bait

How to Fish with Herring as Bait

When going fishing one of the most important things you can probably decide on is the bait. The bait is going to make or break your entire trip depending on you’re able to attract. While Herring is not always a number one pick, it definitely makes a good runner-up to other popular choices like mackerel and bluefish. Because quality Herring is getting harder to come by these days it’s important to understand the best ways in which to get the most bang for your buck when using Herring as bait. 

The Benefits of Using Herring as Bait

There can be many different benefits to using Herring as Bait one of which is the various ways in which you can present the fish. The fish can be cut into very small sections, longer strips, or even be left whole depending on the size of fish you are trying to catch. 

Another benefit to using Herring is that they have shiny scales that will glitter in the water and sunlight making them more noticeable to the fish you are attempting to catch. Of course, this is important because before the fish decide if they want the bait, they would of course need to see it.

Depending on exactly what you’re looking for Herring can be a great bait, especially in terms of fishing for salmon. 

Shopping for Herring as Bait

When choosing Herring to use for bait you need to make sure you’re getting the best possibly quality. Herring can come in different forms whether it’s vacuum packed, frozen, and it also comes in a variety of sizes.

If you are going to be shopping for Herring, it’s best that you find those that come in vacuum packed containers as this can preserve the quality. If you are unable to find Herring in vacuum sealed containers than buying it frozen is fine but you want to double to make sure there isn’t any freezer burn or sunken eyes. Fish with the eyes sunk into the head can suggest the fish is old so checking the eyes is a quick indicator of how fresh the fish can be.

If you are lucky enough you may live in an area where you are able to find live Herring, which of course is the best option since it is the freshest version you can get. Even still, no matter how you get your bait there are still specific things you need to do in order to properly prepare the Herring.

Preparing Herring as Bait

When preparing the Herring as bait one of the first steps you must take, no matter which form the fish was acquire in, is brining. The reason for brining is to preserve both the quality and the appearance of the fish. Some other important reasons to brine the meat is that it will increase the amount of time the Herring can be use, allows the fish to be held for firmly to the hook, and reduce the amount of tearing that could happy while the fish is being used as bait. 

Cleaning & Cutting Herring

Before brining you want to clean your fish thoroughly. To start you want to cut the fish using a very sharp knife and completing the cut in one smooth stroke. If you saw at the fish, you could be causing an undesirable situation that results in you degrading the quality of your bait and making it less efficient in the water.  You will basically leave a jagged edge which will allow the scales to peel back and, again, degrade the quality of your bait.

When cutting the head, it is important to cut it at a 20-degree angle or if you are unsure of whether or not you can achieve this alone there are some great cutting aids you can get for cutting your herring. They are referred to as cut plug guides have different guides for cutting at the proper angles. 

Brining the Herring

Now you can brine the bait. There are many different ways to brine and you can research different ways but for the sake of this process we’ll use a simple water and rock salt brining method. For this method you’ll use a 16.9 oz bottle of water with 1 cup of rock salt. If you need to adjust your recipe, simply keep the same proportions. Now make sure you aren’t brining too much. The herring is best used 8-48 hours after being place in the brine so try to give yourself the adequate about of time between the brining process and fishing. 

After mixing the bring you are simply going to add your fish to it. During this process you can add any dyes or scents that you prefer to use. The reason that fishers will sometimes add these things is to make the bait more attractive or appealing to a potential catch. 

During the brining process you want to make sure you are keeping the bait cool.

Once you’ve had your fish brined for an adequate amount of time you can move on to hooking the fish.

Hooking Your Herring for Bait

When hooking your bait, you can match the size of the hook to the size of the bait although this is not necessary and has no impact on the outcome. You want to lay out your bait and get an estimate on how many hooks you’ll need. 

For tying the hooks you’ll want to use a solid tie. Slip ties can be quicker, but the problem is that their known to, well, slip. If your tie slips, the top hook slips on and cuts the bottom than you can say bye-bye to your catch and your bait.

Once you’re out on the water is when you’ll rig the bait. To do this properly you want to insert the top hook right above the backbone and pull it through the herring. Pull the leader on and then insert the bottom hook through the same hole you already made with the top hook.

And there you have it. Any steps you would do after this point would depend on the various methods in which you may be fishing, including such methods as trolling or mooching. But as far as the initial setup for herring that’s all there is to it. Herring is known for being the best bait for salmon fishing so if you’re looking to catch salmon you’ll want to have some properly brined Herring with you when you go out.