By: Tom Armstrong
After being introduced to Pautzke’s Fire Dye last winter when brook trout fishing, (https://youtu.be/XSt7YeHxFjY) it’s become something I use every time I’m on the ice. Most recently we used it in Northern Ontario for walleye and burbot. It’s a cool product that adds intense colour to your bait, increasing the baits reflective properties, helping them stand out in the water and gives you new hope in dirty water and low light.
This winter I’ve targeted walleye exclusively with Fire Dye suckers. The Fire Dye dyes bait quickly and gives total coverage of the bait when done right. Chartreuse and Blue Fire Dye have been my go-to colours. Both dye suckers perfectly. The chartreuse glows underwater and is my top choice for dirty water or low light fishing (perfect for these overnight trips).
My latest trip was overnight in a shack targeting walleye. The lake is rather unique, with the majority of the walleye action coming in daylight and petering off at night when we switch to targeting ling. This trip was no different. Come morning, the walleye turned on again. We caught fish throughout the day until we were chased off the ice mid afternoon by near whiteout conditions. Walleye, ling, and bonus pike all showed on these Fire Dye suckers.
Using Fire Dye is easy if you follow the instructions. The dye must be concentrated, which means you can’t use much water. With this minimal amount of water, oxygen is limited. Using an aerator is ideal. I use a battery-powered, portable aerator and small plastic container to dye bait in. Meanwhile, I’ve done it with a small amount of water in a minnow bag and no aerator.
If you don’t have an aerator you can still dye bait, but minimize the number you dye at a time to reduce oxygen usage (maybe 8-10 at a time). Keep an eye on the bait, to make sure they’re still active in the bag or container. If they start to look like they’re in trouble, you may need to add slightly more water, or put them back in the pail. The longer the baits sit, and the more concentrated the dye is, the better fish take the dye.
For example, if you mix one bottle of chartreuse dye to three parts water and let the minnows sit for 30-45 minutes they glow. I’ve used it successfully on dace and suckers, and though I haven’t tried it, apparently shiners take the dye even better (as my friends across the border have shown me). On the other hand, if water is diluted, or you can’t leave them in as long, colour will likely show on the fins, eyes and patchy on the body, rather than the entire bait being engulfed.
After bait is dyed, you can put it back in a bait bucket in regular water and it will hold the colour. It may dye your bait bucket water, but your bait will keep the dye once it’s returned to the minnow pail. Feel free to change the water again and the dye will go away.
If you fish dead baits, Fire Dye can be a great addition. Keep in mind, Fire Dye isn’t a brine. It won’t toughen up and make your bait more durable, but it will colour it instantly. For an extra potent combination I’ll mix Fire Brine with the Fire Dye, which gives me perfect bait.
Editor’s Note: Ontario outdoor writer Tom Armstrong is based in the greater Thunder Bay region. He’s spent his life hunting and fishing in the province. Pautzke’s new Fire Dye is available online at Cabelas.ca & Amazon.ca. It will be available this spring in store at Ontario Bass Pro & Cabelas.