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Anchovy are used both live and frozen for bait on the west coast. Live anchovy are kept in net pens for use as bait in most major ports. The fisherman drive their boats over to the bait dealers and buy scoops of live anchovy to put in live bait tanks on their boats. Anchovy are also available frozen in plastic bags. Each bag will usually contain between 15-20 anchovy that are 4-5 inches long. The total weight for a bag is usually one pound.

From the top down: Herring, Alewife, and Anchovy

From the top down: Blue Tray, Green Tray, and Red Tray

Herring are used for cut bait, whole, and in strips. Whole frozen herring are sold in trays and bags. Tray Bait (herring) have a grading system as follows:

  • Blue Tray - 7-8 inch herring, 8 per tray.
  • Green Tray - 6-7 inch herring, 12 per tray.
  • Red Tray - 5-6 inch herring, 12 per tray.

The blue grade herring are primarily used for cut plug and whole bait rigs. The green and red grades are used either whole or in one of the many bait holder rigs.

Herring strips are also popular. The strips are precision cut to fit several available bait holders. The strips are frozen and packaged in small trays containing 6 strips per tray.