The number one bait for inshore fishing is shrimp. Unfortunately, the little guys can be expensive, especially when some are always left at the end of the day. If only there were a way to preserve the leftovers till the next trip. You can put them in a ziplock bag with some salt, but in the end, they don’t smell so great, and fish feel the same way. There is a solution that works well.
Start with a clean pickle jar or any clear container with a lid. This is your mixing jar. Fill the jar about half full with water, then add a cup of salt. Use only NON-IODIZED salt. The cheapest salt is pool salt in a 40-pound bag. You can store your salt in a five-gallon bucket with a lid. Shake the jar vigorously, then let it sit for a while. If no salt settles to the bottom, add more salt and shake it again. When the salt sinks to the bottom, shake it and let it rest several more times to ensure it has dissolved all the salt it can.
Pour just the water into another clear container with a lid. The LocknLock container is perfect for this and holds over 30 OZ. It does not leak.
You can use the undissolved salt in the mixing jar to make more saltwater later. Just replace the lid. Place the saltwater container in your freezer for 24 hours before adding shrimp.
A word about salt concentrations: I’ve seen people boil water to dissolve the salt, which is unnecessary and messy. Hot water will hold more salt, but you will put it in the freezer. When the water cools, it holds less, so the salt settles to the bottom anyway. The water you have created is completely saturated with salt at room temperature; it will freeze at -6° F. Your freezer is probably about 0° F., so it will not freeze in a typical home freezer. Only fresh water will freeze, so the salt settles to the bottom when it does freeze. The same thing happens in the ocean, but there is a much lower salt concentration.
Peel and remove the head and tail of the fresh shrimp. Put the shrimp in the jar in the freezer for at least 24 hours. A 30-ounce jar will hold dozens of shrimp. It takes about 24 hours for the shrimp to preserve, but leave the shrimp in the jar for as long as needed. Take enough from the jar for each trip and put them in a ziplock bag for the day. Keep the jar in the freezer, add shrimp, and remove shrimp as needed. Shrimp in freezing-cold salt water for weeks will still smell fresh, and fish don’t seem to care how poorly their meals are treated. Another bonus of this process it the shrimp are firm and hold a hook better than live, fresh dead, or frozen shrimp.