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Last year, due to the pandemic and social distancing protocols, I ended up fishing alone several times. Also, my trips were often several days or a week or more apart.

When fishing with friends, I figure on a tray of herring per every two people. Last year I was wishing I could thaw my herring a half-tray at a time.

Does anyone have suggestions for thawing and using a half-tray of herring at a time? Or perhaps a means of storing the thawed, but not brined, portion of tray I don't use?
 

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Last year, due to the pandemic and social distancing protocols, I ended up fishing alone several times. Also, my trips were often several days or a week or more apart.

When fishing with friends, I figure on a tray of herring per every two people. Last year I was wishing I could thaw my herring a half-tray at a time.

Does anyone have suggestions for thawing and using a half-tray of herring at a time? Or perhaps a means of storing the thawed, but not brined, portion of tray I don't use?
Every year, I run into the same issue. What I do is take the tray out of the freezer and poke a hole in it. Let it defrost a tad, then once I can, pull out half the herring in the tray. But I never let them defrost all the way. Just enough to where I can get the herring out without ripping off scales.

After getting out my herring, I fold the tray in half and then it goes in a gallon bag sealed from as much air as possible and back into the freezer it goes. Usually I will use it the following trip, but who knows when that next trip is.


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Every year, I run into the same issue. What I do is take the tray out of the freezer and poke a hole in it. Let it defrost a tad, then once I can, pull out half the herring in the tray. But I never let them defrost all the way. Just enough to where I can get the herring out without ripping off scales.

After getting out my herring, I fold the tray in half and then it goes in a gallon bag sealed from as much air as possible and back into the freezer it goes. Usually I will use it the following trip, but who knows when that next trip is.


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Yep. This! I am glad this has come up because I believe there is (sometimes) a lot of bait waste out there. I personally use teaser heads or rig whole bait and go through a lot less than the average person.

Regardless, pop the bag, let the bait tray thaw out a tad, pull out a what you need and put the tray back in the freezer. No problems here for a few years now.
 

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Every year, I run into the same issue. What I do is take the tray out of the freezer and poke a hole in it. Let it defrost a tad, then once I can, pull out half the herring in the tray. But I never let them defrost all the way. Just enough to where I can get the herring out without ripping off scales.

After getting out my herring, I fold the tray in half and then it goes in a gallon bag sealed from as much air as possible and back into the freezer it goes. Usually I will use it the following trip, but who knows when that next trip is.


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Yep. Pretty much what I do except I vacuum pack them before putting them back in the freezer.
I've got some in there from last year and their eyes are still clear with no burn.
 

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Pull out what you need, then vacuum pack the remaining portion and back in the freezer it goes. I generally use one tray at a time, with a couple different cures.
 

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I wet brine a tray at a time. If I don't use the entire tray and I'm not planning to fish for a few days I put the entire container in the freezer. The flesh freezes but the brine itself stays slushy because of the high salt content. Take the container out before the next trip and the baits fish well.

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What they said..... A few days with the seal broken doesn’t hurt a thing as long as you don’t thaw them the whole way at first. Do it lots at B-10.
 

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Brined herring freeze pretty well. I'll bring a couple trays, freeze the remainder and use it for a couple weeks.
 

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I use herring exclusively in the spring until the water warms enough to switch to 360s. The key (in my opinion) is to never let them thaw completely.

I guess I should mention that I rarely use brined herring in the spring, but I do brine any left over at the end of the day that I think thawed too much to re-freeze as “fresh” (I use the brined herring as backup or for scent / color experimentation if I have a big crew). Because of the cold water, baits seem to hold up fine without added salt for as long as I run them (I believe in new baits every 45 minutes or so for scent).

This is going to get a little long-winded to try to explain my program. I start the morning by pulling an appropriate amount of herring out of my bait freezer (0 degrees?) and place all but one tray in the bottom of a small cooler. I then add super-cold ice (frozen at least overnight in the same freezer), poke a hole in the remaining tray, and set it in the top of the cooler. Once I get to the boat ramp, I pull out the poked tray and set it in the splashwell while I launch, park, etc. If it isn’t thawed enough to break out a bait by the time I reach the fishing grounds, I add river water to the package while I rig rods and give my morning speech to my victims (crew). As soon as I can break out one bait per person, I dump out the river water and put the rest of the tray back into the cooler under some ice. Anytime the open bait tray has fewer herring than I have rods fishing, I dig another tray from the bottom of the cooler, poke a hole in it, and set it in the top of the cooler to start thawing. Wash, rinse, repeat. If a partial tray is still firm when I get home, I freeze it and use it first on the next trip. The trays under the ice should still be completely frozen.

Rigging semi-frozen herring takes some practice. You have to be really careful with the hooks or you’ll tear the baits. Also, I don’t even try to remove the guts until after the first pass. If this is too frustrating, you can thaw herring in about 5 minutes in a mason jar of river water, then handle them as you always do.

As I eluded to above, the key to not wasting bait on my boat is good cold ice. I don’t trust ice that we buy the morning of the trip. I make a special trip to McDonalds or the wholesale ice place in Molalla and buy 5-10 bags at a time, then put it in one of my deep-freeze freezers to make sure I’m not starting the day with melting ice. I use frozen water jugs in the fish bag and lunch cooler, but nothing beats super-cold ice cubes for keeping bait right.
 

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Every year, I run into the same issue. What I do is take the tray out of the freezer and poke a hole in it. Let it defrost a tad, then once I can, pull out half the herring in the tray. But I never let them defrost all the way. Just enough to where I can get the herring out without ripping off scales.

After getting out my herring, I fold the tray in half and then it goes in a gallon bag sealed from as much air as possible and back into the freezer it goes. Usually I will use it the following trip, but who knows when that next trip is.


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That.

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I'm in the "brine up a tray" group. Red, green, blue n natural. Yes, that's four trays worth but keeping the bait/fish in wide mouth PB jars filled with brine then frozen/surrounded by salted ice does no harm and lasts for days. Yes, they do catch fish after that long but... there comes a time ya gotta give up the brine and start over. It's about the looks/action.
I started doing up my baits like this after watching a guide do it. I thought, well I do my eggs similarly so why wouldn't it work? Well, it does... and you aren't wasting baits every day that way. Last year we fished 3-4 days on the baits and quite often the more time the baits soak.. the more we got bites.
 

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Have had days on the ocean when the Silvers wouldn’t touch a properly stored stale bait. Put on a bait of the day and fish on. I think it could depend on the cure also. Those dead baits were put up in Brine-n-Brite.
 

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anyone ever try freezing brined herring in vodka like they do with minnows in the great lakes area
 

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Have had days on the ocean when the Silvers wouldn’t touch a properly stored stale bait. Put on a bait of the day and fish on. I think it could depend on the cure also. Those dead baits were put up in Brine-n-Brite.
I use herring exclusively in the spring until the water warms enough to switch to 360s. The key (in my opinion) is to never let them thaw completely.

I guess I should mention that I rarely use brined herring in the spring, but I do brine any left over at the end of the day that I think thawed too much to re-freeze as “fresh” (I use the brined herring as backup or for scent / color experimentation if I have a big crew). Because of the cold water, baits seem to hold up fine without added salt for as long as I run them (I believe in new baits every 45 minutes or so for scent).

This is going to get a little long-winded to try to explain my program. I start the morning by pulling an appropriate amount of herring out of my bait freezer (0 degrees?) and place all but one tray in the bottom of a small cooler. I then add super-cold ice (frozen at least overnight in the same freezer), poke a hole in the remaining tray, and set it in the top of the cooler. Once I get to the boat ramp, I pull out the poked tray and set it in the splashwell while I launch, park, etc. If it isn’t thawed enough to break out a bait by the time I reach the fishing grounds, I add river water to the package while I rig rods and give my morning speech to my victims (crew). As soon as I can break out one bait per person, I dump out the river water and put the rest of the tray back into the cooler under some ice. Anytime the open bait tray has fewer herring than I have rods fishing, I dig another tray from the bottom of the cooler, poke a hole in it, and set it in the top of the cooler to start thawing. Wash, rinse, repeat. If a partial tray is still firm when I get home, I freeze it and use it first on the next trip. The trays under the ice should still be completely frozen.

Rigging semi-frozen herring takes some practice. You have to be really careful with the hooks or you’ll tear the baits. Also, I don’t even try to remove the guts until after the first pass. If this is too frustrating, you can thaw herring in about 5 minutes in a mason jar of river water, then handle them as you always do.

As I eluded to above, the key to not wasting bait on my boat is good cold ice. I don’t trust ice that we buy the morning of the trip. I make a special trip to McDonalds or the wholesale ice place in Molalla and buy 5-10 bags at a time, then put it in one of my deep-freeze freezers to make sure I’m not starting the day with melting ice. I use frozen water jugs in the fish bag and lunch cooler, but nothing beats super-cold ice cubes for keeping bait right.

Our technique for dealing with herring is similar, but we use self caught herring for everything, rockfish,lingcod,halibut,salmon, and threshers, oh and tuna too. So we use a lot of bait.

Vac-pac and freeze, somewhat by size. jumbows for halibut smaller for salmon and cut bait..The night before I open a pack or two and place them to thaw in in a small lunch box cooler with salty water,ice and a good squirt of laundry blueing. In the boat the bait is tough and bright-ready t fish. If we have a big crew, extra frozen packs are kept in a separate cooler. Any left overs just go back in the freezer. If the bait box is forgotten on the boat, it gets pretty smelly after a few days

Cold brine with bluing is the key!
 

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I am both lazy and cheap. I quit brining my herring years ago. First thing is I discard the foam tray and re-vacuum pack the herring without a tray, but still lined up in rows like it comes in the tray. I put my herring (non)tray in a small cooler that is packed with about 5" of ice cubes on BOTH sides of the herring (non)tray (I put the ice cubes in gallon freezer bags so no water can thaw out the herring). This keeps the herring very close to completely frozen all day long since the herring are always directly touching ice but never immersed in any liquid.

When time to bait up, I grab a frozen herring and throw it in a small bucket of sea water to quickly thaw it out. The rest of the herring stays easily frozen in the cooler all day long. As soon as I get back to camp, my first job is to immediately re-vacuum pack remaining herring and get it in the freezer. At end of day, I also drain then refreeze the ice from the cooler since it has barely thawed all day (be sure to fully drain or the ice cubes turn into an ice block, and then you don't get good contact with the herring - important that the ice cubes have great contact with the herring tray).

Using this method, both the ice and the herring will last me multiple days. I virtually never throw away a herring because they always stay frozen until used.

So the trick is to find a small, high quality ice chest whose width and depth allow you to pack ice on both sides of the herring (non)trays, and leave another bag of ice on top of the herring - ensuring that the herring is completely surrounded on three sides by zip-locked ice all day. And you have to train your fishing buddies to remember to close the herring ice chest thoroughly each time it is used (that's the hard part)...
 
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Fishing by myself and mainly being a plug guy, I broke out half a pack of red label, thawed them just enough to separate, vacuum sealed up half and brined the other with plain kosher salt and put in my new container... a Kirkland Pesto container that fits snugly in my ice bag, has a rubber/non paper seal on the metal lid so it remains water tight.





A pink Bling Wing adds sparkle in cold, shallow February Springer water.

https://youtu.be/POysd74CWxc

CW
 
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