A Guide’s Secret to the Perfect Halibut Bait

By Gary Blasi | 06/07/2015

I make a living guiding halibut, lingcod, rockfish and salmon on California’s North Coast and there are few things more important to earning a good paycheck than having good bait. Simply put, if it doesn’t work and constantly produce fish, you won’t find it on my boat. We have to have bait that’s perfect everyday. If we don’t, we won’t catch fish.

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Halibut fishermen know the importance of scent. In the last decade I’ve used many scents. Meanwhile, the first time I used Pautzke Nectar in my halibut bait brines was in late spring of 2013 and I now use the Halibut & Rockfish Nectar and Fire Brine daily. Since switching over to the Nectar we’ve had very few poor trips, unless weather keeps us from fishing.

 

This summer, I’ve toyed with my brine a little bit and made a few minor changes that have helped strengthen and prolong the life of my bait. Rather than just scenting it up, I now use Natural Fire Brine in the mix. What this does is keep the bait durable, meaning it doesn’t get eaten to shreds by small fish and remains in tact when the larger bottomfish come in to feed.

 

The brine I’ve been using for halibut bait this year is simple to make (in fact, it takes no effort at all, you just pour a bottle into your bait) and it achieves two things: it scents and toughens my bait. When using the Halibut & Rockfish Nectar, even after a 30-minute soak, I’ll bring the bait up and it’s still pink the middle, which means it’s absorbing the bait and that strong Nectar scent is seeping out of the bait and drawing halibut, lingcod and other species in to feed.

 

To prove this, in the past we’ve caught three halibut on one bait. After the second fish was caught, we dropped it back down and the meat of the salmon belly, which is normally orange, was still a dark red. That red tells me the Halibut & Rockfish Nectar and we use is powerful stuff.

 

The Halibut Bait Brine

 

Here’s exactly what I do to make my halibut brine and put enough scent down in the massive Pacific Ocean to be successful. When targeting halibut I usually use salmon bellies and herring.

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Step 1:

 

Place salmon bellies, herring and salmon leftovers in bucket. If you don’t have salmon bellies, it’s ok to use herring. You can find them for sale in most tackle shops. Large herring is always expensive (up to $2 a bait) so you want to scent it well and get the most out of each bait.

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Step 2:

 

Add a bottle of Natural Fire Brine. This is designed to toughen up your bait. You don’t want soft bait hanging around the bottom. Soft bait gets chewed apart by small fish, which means you could have no bait while you think you are fishing for halibut.

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Step 3:

 

Add Fire Power (pure krill powder). Personally, I coat the top of the herring, normally using about a quarter of the Fire Power container. Keep in mind, all these fish are krill eaters. The smell of krill is attractive to them. It’s ok to use a lot of it.

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Step 4:

 

Add Halibut & Rockfish Nectar. I usually add two containers, but I’m doing a big batch at a time. Two bottles is enough for a 5-gallon bucket. (Lately I’ve been adding purple or yellow Nectar, too, but that’s just because I’m playing with the recipe. You’ll do fine with only the Halibut & Rockfish Nectar if that’s what you want to use.

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Step 5:

 

Mix contents. I have a stick I’ll put in there and mix it. Then, I’ll put it in the fridge and let it sit overnight. I’ll let it sit about 18 hours and it’s ready to fish.

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*Editor’s Note: Blasi operates Full Throttle Sport Fishing and wears gloves when making this brine. For more information on his halibut & lingcod combo trips please visit http://fullthrottlesportfishing.com.

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