Author Topic: Stinky smelt (Ripe)  (Read 1034 times)

Offline BAMF22

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Stinky smelt (Ripe)
« on: Jan 01, 2016, 10:10 AM »
Has anyone let their smelt unfreeze and get ripe for a day before putting it under the ice?  What are your thoughts?
I wish I knew how to do this!!

Offline saxmatt

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Re: Stinky smelt (Ripe)
« Reply #1 on: Jan 01, 2016, 03:48 PM »
They'll eat it. Sometimes they even prefer the nasty old dead baits over fresh bait.

Offline esox_xtm

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Re: Stinky smelt (Ripe)
« Reply #2 on: Jan 01, 2016, 03:50 PM »
Had a buddy that swore by that, did it all the time. He said that's how the old timers do it.....  ???

I fish a pile of deads and never got comfortable with it. Just doesn't make sense. Sure they're "dead" and there's not a chance in 4377 that we would eat them but that doesn't mean smelling dead fishy and smelling rotten is the same. When real fish die they're under the water (really, really cold nearly frozen water) and never get exposed to air (full of oxygen and bacteria to promote rotting. In fact a dead fish under water will "keep" for a long time without breaking down very much at all.

Now I DO believe in thawing them somewhat before fishing. Frozen bait defrosts pretty slowly in icy water and if they're frozen there's not much scent that disperses. Remember smelling fishy is different than smelling rotten  :sick:.

In WI we can no longer legally use bait that is preserved by refrigeration or freezing alone due to VHS reasons. Toward that end I have been curing my deads in dry salt and then storing them in a super saturated brine. The first year I did this I caught more fish than I ever had and even if WI says I can go back to freezing alone I probably won't. Other pluses are: the bait never freezes which means it's always ready to fish, they're tougher so they don't break apart so easily, if I forget and leave 'em somewhere warm they don't mush out and get stinkier than they already are. Lot of reasons.....

This is a big place and I'm sure there will be differing opinions. This is just mine, UMMV.......
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Offline BAMF22

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Re: Stinky smelt (Ripe)
« Reply #3 on: Jan 01, 2016, 05:11 PM »
What do you use for dry salt?  How long do leave them in the salt/brine?
I wish I knew how to do this!!

Offline esox_xtm

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Re: Stinky smelt (Ripe)
« Reply #4 on: Jan 01, 2016, 05:44 PM »
I just scoop some salt out of the water softener brine tank. I've used plain old rock salt for throwing on the sidewalk. I cover 'em in dry salt for a couple , three  days. Be advised they will dry out some as well as drip some liquid. I usually pour the salty, fishy liquid into the brine bag. They can stay there forever..... The brine re-hydrates them a bit, I usually use a syringe (60cc at Fleet Farm vet section) to shoot some brine into the interior (right down their gullet till it comes out somewhere) so they get a giant dose.

Salt has been a tried and true additive for plastic bass lures for years. That's why I didn't flinch to try it on deads for pike. The pleasant surprise was mine..... ;D

To make the brine I put a gallon of water in the soup kettle and heat it up. Once it boils I'll start adding salt until it doesn't take any more. That's super saturated (a real science term BTW). If there is some undissolved salt in the bottom, no matter. I cool it a bit and pour it into an old gallon container. I like a vinegar jug (well rinsed) because they're a lot tougher than milk jugs. Now I have brine for whenever I need it. It does not spoil.

There's a great article on dead baits for pike in the last In-Fisherman. Yes, I will be experimenting with colored baits this year. Not magic and not all the time but sometimes can make a big difference.

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Offline saxmatt

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Re: Stinky smelt (Ripe)
« Reply #5 on: Jan 01, 2016, 06:57 PM »
I prefer fresh salted dead too. I freeze my bait the day I catch them. I just give them a belly poke with a knife to pop the air bladder so they don't float, put them in ziplock bags with water and kosher salt. Take the bag out of the freezer and put it in a bucket of water the night before to defrost and you're good to go. Sometimes I'll use old nasty bait and it will out produce fresh dead though. The cold water does preserve dead fish pretty well but they're used to eating nasty dead fish other times of the year, especially after ice out. The oxygen levels are the lowest last ice and that's when you get a die off. I'm sure you've all seen pics of fish kills after ice out when we get a cold winter. Those fish rot and after the pike spawn they load up on rotting dead fish. They're starving and don't have to waste energy chasing after something. They're also looking to put on weight before they spawn. Late ice nasty dead bait can be killer.

 



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