How To Salt Cure Bait For Surf Fishing Yourself
You can salt cure your own bait. It’s simple and easy to do. Salt cured bait will get you just as many hits as live bait and it doesn’t come off the hook as easy either.
Bait that has been cured is firm and will hold the hook much better. It also has the same amount of natural scents as live bait just as long as you don’t wash or rinse the bait before curing.
The advantages of salt cured bait are:
- No need to use a live bait bucket
- Aerators are not needed to keep live bait
- Baits are easily carried in a bag or small container
- You will loose less bait because it stays on the hook longer
- No need to worry about wasting bait that isn’t used
- You can always have bait on hand and ready to go
It’s so convenient to grab your bait and head to the beach to fish and it’s so easy to do
Salt curing isn’t new. It’s an age old practice for preserving meat. It’s only since the development of refrigerators that it has fallen out of practice.
Although you can cure all kinds of bait for surf fishing, curing time does vary. Small cut or filleted pieces cure faster than larger whole fish. If you collect your own bait, keep it on ice until ready to start curing it.
Shrimp should have the heads and shells removed. You can use uncooked shrimp from the super market. Finger mullet and menhaden up to about 5 inches can be salted whole. Larger fish should have the guts and heads removed. You can fillet them or leave the scales on. You can use them on a harness or chunk them up. The heads can also be salted. Squid can be cut up into strips or pieces.
Start with a box of kosher salt. Do not use iodized salt. Select a container with a flat bottom suitable for the size bait you want to cure. Place twice the thickness of salt in the bottom as the thickness of the bait to be cured. If your bait is 1 inch thick, put 2 inches of salt in the bottom. Place the bait on the salt followed by another layer of salt over it the same depth as the starting layer. You can continue building layers a bait and salt until all the bait is covered in salt. Do not seal the container. If you want to cover it just place a towel over the top. It needs to be exposed to the air to dry out.
Small pieces of shrimp can cure in a day or so. Whole fish can take several weeks. It all depends on how much of the raw meat is exposed to the salt. All the moisture has to be drawn out of the bait by the salt before it will be cured. That’s why a whole fish can take so much longer.
Once the bait is fully cured you can package it in zip locks or vacuum sealed bags. Don’t be concerned about how hard the cured bait becomes. That’s why it stays on the hook so much better. All the original scents will be preserved with it. Once it hits the water it performs just like any other form of bait.
Surf fishing with cured baits is so much easier and more convenient than dealing with live bait. Even if you have a preference for using live bait it’s a great backup. Once you give it a try, I guarantee you’ll use it on a regular basis.