I received many b-mails regarding the brining process of Ballyhoo. I am certainly no expert in this field but I brined my bait according to Baitmasters exact instructions and it worked perfectly. Here is the procedure: Thaw the Ballyhoo bill down in their unopened package in a bucket of water. Once they are thawed prep them as far as you like, if you want to rig them completely do it I only broke the bills and poked the eyes out. Lay them belly up in your tray and sprinkle the brine mixture (kosher salt and baking soda works perfectly) on the hoos no more than six hours prior to use or the bait will get to stiff. I thawed and prepped mine the night before put them belly up in my tray covered them with ice and put them in the fridge. In the morning before we got on the road to HI I put the brine mix on them. We pulled four baits all day from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm and never swapped them out the lasted all day long. Some may think what I am about to say is unthinkable but I thawed two packs of bait and only used four so I .................... I know............ vacuum sealed them and refroze them. I will let y'all know how they work when I re-use them.
A couple of observations from what I know is correct: ALWAYS put the hoos in the bucket bills down, not up. If you put them bills up, the tails will get smashed and the baits won't swim as well ( the bills are going to get clipped anyway). Open the bag before putting in bucket so the saltwater mix will thaw the hoos. ( if no saltwater available for the night before prep, add a box of salt-- never just fresh water). Don't keep in the bucket too long (Get in cold temp ASAP) . I'm a firm beliver in baking soda to shine them pearls up When thawed ( or almost), remove from bucket and place on tray with drain holes-- dry brine and cover and keep as cold as possible ( frig is best w/ alum. foil cover). Will be fine for at least 24 hrs Best if cured over night.[wink]
Once thawed they are only good once. If not used, throw them out with the bailer squid at the end of the day if not going fishing the nest day. Refroze hoos are like sausage w/o a casing.
I stand corrected and edited the post to reflect "bill down" in the bucket. I am sure there are many ways to brine a bait the method I posted was directly from Baitmasters. They also spoke of a wet method of brining that I didn't get in to. Thanks for the correction.
Oh yea, I go a bit overboard on my hoos, but I don't put my hoos in a bucket of nasty harbor water. Better to use clear fresh water w/ a box of salt than the stuff from a nasty harbor full of diesel fuel
I agree, try not to re-use hoo's unless necessary. I really think (from experience) that baitmasters hoo's are the exception. I had a whole bunch partial thaw during Isabelle. I kept them and we used them last May off OI...the ones we had bought new (from a tackle shop) really $ucked so I thought, what the hell...let's try the old Baitmaster baits...they were still tough as nails and looked pretty good...and we caught a lot of fish on them.
If they look really terrible and have thawed and gone un-used, I agree use them as bailer bait on another trip or grind em up with chum.
Yup-- Baitmasters is as good as they get from what I've used. This year, I'm doing dry Ice for the 3-4 day trips, when you bring 8-9 packs in the boat so you don't run out and then it's a slow day. Everything is mush in a couple of days siting in a regular ice cooler on a tray or dryed out rigged up on top of the rack. I'm guessing I can keep my packs hard as a rock in between some dry Ice for quret a while. Price for dry Ice isn't all that bad, considering what is thrown away.
I put my hoo's beaks UP..........if you put them beaks down in the bucket while thawing on the ride out...... the motion of the ocean can splinter/break/split some of there bills. I don't like splintered beaks when I wrap my rigging wire down the bill. Also when the beaks are splintered it make it dammm near impossible to break the beak partially from top to bottom allowing your to slowly peel back that little piece of skin under the bill yielding the grove for the mono to lay in...... I have never had a problem with the tails getting monked up........maybe Ive just been lucky.........anyway for me its bill up!
I don't brine my bait unless I have too.........
Bait Masters hoos are brined 24 hours before they are frozen and packaged. This is why the are such good baits.......no need to brine them again.
You want your baits to SWIM............if you brine too long, too soon, too much, or double brine (as with baitmasters) your shooting yourself in the foot.
Every package is a little different...........as your preparing them you can tell if you have good, average, or bad.
Good Hoo's.......Don't Brine
Average Hoo's..........Slight sprinkle of brine on bellies
Bad Hoo's......... Salt'm like a country ham
If your Objective is to make your hoo's..... SO tough and durable you can drag'm for 8 hours with out changing.........your being lazy and cheap.
I can't count the number of times I have changed a hoo that looked perfectly good out for a fresh one and got a bite on the FRESH one within a couple of minutes..........More sent...blood....guts...scales...better swimming action...etc....etc.........?????
Who knows...........???? But it has happened to much to be coincidence!!!
Freshen your hoo's up frequently, whether they need it or not.....don't brine unless you have to.............IMHO it will help you catch more fish.