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I think the herring I got is no good.


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I did exactly what John King says to do whith filleting and brining the green label herring I got from my local shop.

But I think they smell like they are starting to rot and are soft and the scales are coming off when I handle them. They are firmer than when I filleted them but not anywhere like the strips I have been using. Any ideas why this could be? They have been in brine for 3 days.

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I did exactly what John King says to do whith filleting and brining the green label herring I got from my local shop.

But I think they smell like they are starting to rot and are soft and the scales are coming off when I handle them. They are firmer than when I filleted them but not anywhere like the strips I have been using. Any ideas why this could be? They have been in brine for 3 days.

Was talking with a guy at a tackle shop yesterday and he was saying the same thing. Sounds like they got thawed and refroze. My dad used to rig smelt for pike fishing with hooks and leaders. Put them in a ziplock and then freeze and rethaw and refreeze. this would make them soft and smelly. soft enough that if handled they would break apart in your hands. But man the pike loved them nasty things. what he was describing last night sounds like the same thing. the guy at the tackle shop said that the herring comes in a box ups and supposed to come overnight to keep them frozen. If ups screws up, the shops get thawed herring. I guess some of the shops refreeze which could casue what you are experiencing.

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A tell tale if it's been thawed and refrozen is blood in the package, there shouldnt be any. If there is blood in the package then it has definately thawed. If it is just semi thawed it's still fine but if it completely thawed and wasn't brined then it may spoil.

Also the shipping is not overnight, it's 2 day ground with enough dry ice to justify that to most dealers some of those who sell more or it have it derived by 18 wheeler. Usually it's not the ups fault though, power outages at the bait shop is usually the culprit. We a dedicated generator specifically for that purpose, good thing we do cause a week or two ago our power went off for about 18 hours and our freezers were running the entire time.

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Well there was no blood in the package. But now the brine is red. I had a hit last night on one of my meat rigs and missed the fish but when I brought the rig in to reset the herring was ripped out of the head and was still attached to the hook. It was tore right out of the bait head and there was still a piece of it still pinned with the toothpick in the head.

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Could any other fish be used with success, such as shiners or small suckers? maybe injected with herring oil?

I've used smelt before and caught couple salmon on them. You have to remember salmon only eat certain prey. Suckers work for lakers because the prey on them. As far as I know salmon don't. The only prey I have heard of salmon eating are; alewives, herring, smelt, sticklebacks and gobies.

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If you puncture the package before they thaw there will be no blood so I guess it is still possible they did thaw because with the problems you are having it kind sounds like it. There are 2 other possibilities on is that it is really really old, or not actually herring. Either way it shouldn't be falling apart like that.

Brine turning red normal.

My last point of not actually being herring ties into the last post. Yes, people have tried many many other baits. Smelt, alewives, anchovies, salmon strips, ect. They all seem to be missing something, most are actually tender then the herring, and even if they hold up people then add herring oil. Why? Herring is proven and easily available. You can get just about anything to work, and some of it will be fairly successful but the attributes and track record of the real thing are what makes it what it is.

I would also like to add that the herring strips don't need to stay frozen. They are heavily brined and treated before they are even put into the package and much more temp tolerant. Been shipping them without ice for years, left them sitting in boats for days, 5 years ago when there was a shortage using bait that was over 2 years old, always staying tough. Now under normal circumstances we keep the strips frozen but emphasizing how tough properly treated herring can be.

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