Keith Lusher 08.30.23
In the world of crappie fishing, good is never enough. Crappie anglers are always trying to gain the upper hand when it comes to catching more fish. I had the opportunity to try out a product that could potentially give crappie anglers who use shiners a bolder option when dealing with stained to murky water. It’s called High Octane Fire Dye and it’s made by Pautzke. It can be used in fresh or saltwater and the options are endless when it comes to what it is used on. The website said it can be added to dad bait, artificial bait, and live bait including shrimp, bream, and sardines.
I ordered 6 bottles that were 4 oz. each and headed to a friend’s shop in the back of his house to give the fire dye a try. The instructions call for using one bottle in 16 oz. of water. We cut out the bottom of a milk jug to use because of the dye having the potential to stain. There were two other containers that we used for the blue dye and the pink dye.
We added an aerator stone to the containers to make sure that the shiners stayed alive for the prescribed 20 minutes. After adding the dye to the cut-out milk jug, we waited 20 minutes and scooped out a few minnows.
The first color we examined was the shiners that were smoking in the green container.
After scooping a few minnows out of the green dye we examined them. While they did have a green sheen to them, they were nowhere near what we expected so we decided to double up on the originally prescribed 20 minutes of soak time. After checking the shiners again they were a little bit more colorful but still not up to par so we decided to double the dosage and add all of the water into a bait bucket and place it in the boat so that the shiners would be able to soak during the trip. Since we only had one bait bucket we were forced to leave behind the blue and pink shiners behind soaking in the shop. We figured it wouldn’t be a problem since the air conditioner was on and the water was being pirated with a pump.
After loading up the boat, we headed to the Pearl River Navigational Canal in Pearl River, LA. The canal has a unique history and is loaded with man-made features. The canal was originally designed to make it easier for ships to transfer goods from Bogalusa, La. to the West Pearl River. The 20-mile, machine-dug channel comes complete with dams, sand pits and even a shallow waterfall that flows over a sill at its northernmost section near the town of Bogalusa.
After getting out on the water I scooped up a minnow out of the bucket. Bingo! This is what I was looking for! The shiner was a bright chartreuse color. We fished the majority of the day with the shiners and caught over 20 crappie using the minnows under a cork. The shiners were also used tight-lining without a cork which worked as well but not as good as under a cork. (I think the fish were shallow this day and to cork allowed for a more shallow presentation). While we were using the dyed shiners the color stayed intact and didn’t fade away. They were active and didn’t show any signs of being affected by the dye. While the water we were fishing was clear and there was no need for using the bright green color dye I can definitely see it being of use when targeting crappie in murky water where the added brightness would come into play. Also while the dye did work I recommend a soaking time of at least 2 hours if you are looking for a solid bold green color on your shiners.
Upon returning to the shop, we examined the minnows that were soaking in the blue and pink dye. I scooped out the blue shiners and sadly discovered that they didn’t soak up the dye like the shiners that were soaked in green did. I made a scoop into the container with the pink dye and the results were the same. The minnows soaked up enough color to be noticeable but the coloration came out splotchy and uneven. The dye did manage to color their fins well which had a nice effect in the sunlight so that may be something that you are looking for. During the test we didn’t have any problem with keeping the bait fish alive however I will warn that we did use an aerator. I don’t think these fish would last long without the water being aerated.
In the end, if you’re looking for another option for fishing with live bait, Pautzke’s High Octane Fire Dye is the solution for bland, drab shiners. But remember…triple the soak time!