Shasta Lake has been fishing quite well this summer, but for many, its been a little off from years past when summer trout trolling is generally considered to be at its best. Continuous releases from Shasta Dam have water levels in the lake dropping rapidly and the smoke filled skies have cast a dark shadow over the water for weeks. When the bite is red hot like it typically is this time of the year, anyone can simply troll a small spoon, squid, or fly to get their bites. When the bite slows, like it has for the past few weeks, you have to go to the next level and that means fishing bait.
Bait is my trump card in any fishery I participate in, and thats what I turn to when the fishing gets tough. For Shasta Lake in the spring and summer, freshly brined Thread fin Shad is my top bait when the bite gets tough. Sure, bait prep can be a bit more work, but going for a boat ride instead of catching fish is always avoided if at all possible. Fresh bait will often catch fish when nothing else will. Fresh Thread fin Shad needs to be brined before fishing so it will preserve well and stay in tact when rolling the depths to attract the bites. Brining the baits with Pautzke Fire Brine and Fire Dye is relatively quick process and is easy for all angler skill levels. Heres how I brine my Shad before fishing them.
The first thing I do is gather up a bag of frozen Shad from the freezer and grab a bottle of Pautzke Fire Brine and a bottle of Fire Dye. I put the block of frozen Shad in a plastic baggie or in a plastic container, squirt in about 1/3 of the Fire Dye and then about 1/3 of the Fire Brine bottle as well. For a quick job, I'm usually using a plastic baggie because its one less thing to clean when I'm finished with my overnight soak and I'm going to drain the bait free from the brine and dye anyway.
Thats it as far as the hard work. Now I simply put the baggie in the refrigerator and let it soak over night. Since the frozen Shad were placed in the plastic baggie frozen so I'll go back every few hours before calling it a night and mix them up as they unthaw in the baggie. This just ensures the baits are brined and dyed uniformly throughout the brining process over night. In the morning before I head to the lake, I drain off the excess brine and secure the brined Shad in a plastic container before securing it in my ice chest for the day on the water. If you have time constraints and don't get a full nights brine in, just add some salt to the baggie with the bait and brine solution. It will firm up the bait even more quickly and will be ready to fish within hours.
For those of you out there that are new to brining bait, fear not, you really can't screw this process up. Leaving it in the brine is the only thing that will damage the bait and that won't happen for days! 8-12 hours is a good timeframe to go by in my book and will keep these baits fishing like new for days and days. keep your bait cool while on the water and make sure your Shad are rolling properly before sending them down deep! Rolling Shad is another article altogether so in the meantime, go to Pautzke Bait Co's YouTube channel to see how to rig these baits for fishing. Tight lines!