Cutting Your Own Bait Too?
Professional Preparation and Care of Cut-Bait
for use on the Great Lakes, or Pacific Ocean
Home Salmon Busters™ Great Lakes Info Tips and Trix Capt. John's Log

Now, that you've been magically transported here by the wonders a click, be sure to pay attention to the details.  Prepare your own and a 75% cost savings await you if you do!
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13. Snip the head
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14. Trim excess

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15. Width of "A" side

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16. Trim to 7/8"

Photo 13. 
Now, things might get a tad tricky.  You need to use scissors now to snip off the head.  This is the "A" side we're working on.  The "B" side will just be a strip with no tail fin.

Photo 14.
  There's only about of a 5/16s" of an inch of room inside the bait head.  By trimming, the bait will easily slide into the bait head holder without looking scruffy. 

Photo 15. 
This image shows the snipped off area and how thick (from top to bottom) the herring is.  It's my firm belief the backbone being left in assists in a more natural life-like spin, as it stiffens up the fillet. Also, you can see it's far to wide to fit into the bait head holder.

Photo 16. 
You now need to trim off the belly, so the top to bottom measurement is 1 1/16" of an inch.  Be sure to trim any tiny rib bones hanging down from the herring's rib cage.

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17. Fleshy "A" side
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18. Scales on "A" side
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19. Finished "B" side
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20. Ready for Brining

Photo 17. 
This image shows in great detail what the "A" side looks like after it's trimmed to a little over an inch.  The overall length should not exceed 6 inches.   If it does? might not spin properly.  Trim the front part of the bait on an angle to match the bait head holder.  

Photo 18. 
This what the trimmed herring fillet is gonna look like and I always have a spare bait head handy to make sure it fits just right.  Please note most of the scales are still attached.  Now, this is what Reel-Salmon meat is supposed to look like.  I'm sure you'll agree to the irresistible natural presentation of the outward appearance of this bait!

Photo 19. 
This is the "B" side.  You'll see the top and bottom have been transposed, but never the less the Salmon still chomp on it.  With me it's the personal preference to the "A" side, however results with the "B" side seem to be pretty darn close to the "A" piece.

Photo 20. 
Please examine this photo very closely.  I took this image to show you what 24 cut pieces of Salmon bait look like before it goes into the special brine mix.  You can see the original baggie of brine, or juice I started the thaw process in this photo.  Be sure to save that contains the herring oil and initial juices (smell) from the herring.  Be do the work yourself the savings will amount to about 70% of purchasing the commercially prepared stuff.  I'd also guesstimate self-prepared herring strips out-fish the commercial stuff by at least 50% from my experience from what I seen in fair head-to-head tests on the boats I was on.  It wasn't that we didn't catch fish on the commercial 6 strips in a tub, we caught more on the homemade herring.

Tip:   Put the cut-up herring in a Zip Lock gallon sized baggie in the same baggie you started this process out of.  Do not discard the original fluid, because it have has the herring oil in it.  Never rinse the fillets either, it is essential not to overlook this step.  Let your hands get gooky and leave the fishy smell on your paws.  Scent is the deal!  I use a paper towel if my hands get too messed up.

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21. Double bagging
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22.  Refrigeration
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23. Your Reward
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24. My reward

Photo 21.  
Squeeze all the air (at least most of it) out the Zip Lock containing the killer Salmon meat.  Then double bag it, to ensure no fluid, or herring juice will leak.  Now, just refrigerate for at least 8 hours and you're good to go.  You will notice a firmer fillet after about 12 hours, as the salt and 20 Mule Team Borax toughen the meat.
Use a jar, this article was first penned in 2004 and is dated.

Photo 22. 
Carefully wrap this whole deal with rubber bands to keep down the air pockets and make sure every strip is soaking in the brine formula.  Double bagging also assures your wife won't bitch at you for stinking up the frig with a fishy smell.

Photo 23.  
Here's what 18 Kings (6 person limit) look like in a 151 quart Igloo Cooler.  Results like this are not a distant dream, but a reality....if you've been not to broke to pay attention.  This photo is courtesy of Capt. Craig from Killin' Time Charters.  To see a heavy brag board of Kings, click here.  Let me add, Capt. Craig was new to using cut-bait and to read the rest of his comments click here.

Photo 24. 
After viewing 23 photos of a step by step process of making your own bait, I though you might enjoy seeing my secretary.  She's tried to make my bait for me before, however she can't see very good straight down because her chest always gets in the way.  Also, a little levity never hurt anyone, especially after viewing a long drawn out article.


1. I've had many tell me a glass jar also works for extended storage in the frig..  Meat treated like this will last at least 7 days, so from weekend to weekend is no big deal.  I almost think, the self-pickling process will extend the storage life indefinitely, but I haven't ran any test to that effect.

2. Be sure to keep this bait cold and if you double bag it like me, fluid spillage is not a problem.  Take out what you need for the amount of rods you're gonna run and a couple of spare chunks at hand.  This will save time digging in the cooler for more meat during the heat of battle.

3. Re-brine the used strips, that way you'll re-impregnate the smell back into the strips.  At times bait can be hard to come by, so make it last.  I always use the re-brined used meat for early morning set when the fish aren't gonna be to fussy like they are in the middle of the day.

4.  Use only good quality toothpicks that are dry.  Wet toothpicks are as useless as tits on a bull and will not penetrate thru the skin, or hide of the herring fillet.  Be sure to neatly snip off the ends of the toothpick that hold the meat in the bait head holder.

5. Always take a quick visual of the bait when you go to set the rod.  It must spin.  I've seen the bait head holders loose their curve and the bait just drags flatly thru the water.  Re-bend the meat head holder if necessary.

5.  Blouse out the fly skirts and this will aid in the overall spin.  Larger more gaudy flies that can inhibit the spin rate.

6.  A razor sharp fillet knife is an utter must.  There's a big difference in cutting thru a fillet, compared to dragging a blade thru it.  This also goes for filleting your catch at the fish cleaning station.

7. Spend the extra time to have cleanly trimmed chucks of fish bait.  Tattered and torn looking bait will not enhance your presentation, not one iota!  Me?.......I rather have the ultimate amount of confidence in what I'm using.  I do not want to pull stuff thru the water for hours on end without a bite.....wondering if my stuff is good?  I know my stuff is good before I put it in the water and have 100% confidence in it.

8.  I had several say, "I don't have time to make my own."  This is a bunch of lethargic BS!
It takes less then 15 minutes to make up 24 pieces.  Those who are too lazy and less inspired will then ride around with slower action when compared to the dedicated Salmon angler willing to go the extra step.

9.  Fish your own program and ignore the BS on the radio, many people can't be out-lied
and tend to brag more, then share information.

10.  Target the warm water out of temp fish for the early bite, then work the 46 to 38 degree water after the morning furious first light bite slows.

11. Less is more, 4 riggers on a boat with a 8 foot beam is too much.  Try 2 or 3 riggers if you're experienced enough the run a "chute," or center rigger.  Be forewarned, running a center rigger in the prop wash over the top of an outdrive is a accident waiting to happen.

12.  For shallow fish, leads from 60 to 80 feet will keep the fish biting on meat.

13.  20 to 30 degree cable angle at depths exceeding 50 feet is a good place to start.

14.  8 to 10 foot leads when fishing depths exceeding a 100 feet.  This allows a slower presentation and still keeps the "Reel-Flasher churning water at a good spin.

15.  Rigger rods should always carry 25 to 30 pound test mono, anything less will cost you
dough and lost fish in the long run.

16.  Use the double hook rig located at this link: Secret Hook Setup

17.  Use a very stout release when fishing deep.  Size 16 rubber bands with a "S" hook at
tail of the cannonball offer a cheap easy way to solid hookups.  Wrap the line about 2 or 3 times around 3 fingers of your hand, then half-hitch and draw the loops snug and install on the "S" hook.  Size 16s break at 4 1/2 pounds of pressure, don't be surprised if a small, less then 5 pound fish can't bust the band.  Remember, the big guys are the hardest to hook and that's the reason for the stiff release.  Offshore OR-8s will do a similar job at less risk to your bilge pumps.  Size 32 rubber bands break at around 7 1/2 pounds of pull.

18.  Even new hooks need sharpening, inspect the hook after every fish, a quick visual is needed before sending any bait, or lure back into the water.

19. Make sure use only 20 Mule team Borax Laundry Booster.  This is not laundry soap!

20. Constantly inspect your meat rigs for signs of wear, even a small nick, or fray in the line can cause the line to part, thus losing the bait head hold and more importantly the fish.

21. Never doubt yourself, or your program.  You can not put fish under your boat.  We all make wrong calls and being lucky all the time just ain't gonna work.  Reel-Flashers and meat work if there's any fish in your neighborhood.  If not, pack up and move to another area pronto, or file that info away so you don't make that same mistake again.  Now, like everything with fishing there are exceptions, so if the fish are deep at depths exceeding a 100 feet you might not get a early bite, but at 9am all hell breaks loose.

22. Never relegate one or two rods to meat, if you do?'re destined not to gain confidence in this method.  Load the spread and go for it!  The more scent in the water the better.  Once you see the effectiveness of this style of catching, I doubt you'll ever look back.

23. Never be to inflexible to learn new ways to catch fish.  Being stubborn will do more harm then good.  Those with the least experience seem to do best with my product and the meat program.  Those who have never taken big catches of Kings have found by using my product, what was once hard, now comes easy.   Click here for further proof

24. If your results have been lackluster into the land of fishing with cut-bait, please try following the directions I provided here and I'll bet the story will have a different ending.  With meat fishing your results depend on the quality of the cut-bait you have in the water.

25. This article was first put together in 2004 and have since learned that the Borax and
Kosher salt will keep bait in usable condition for several weeks.  I have used and caught
caught with left over bait from the previous season, but do not recommend holding it
that long.  Brine will preserve bait for a good long month in prime condition if kept stored in the refrigerator.  Do not re-freeze bait, cuz every time you do is makes it softer and subtracts from the quality.  Number 25 snippet was updated on 5/26/09.

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