By: Jarett Carlson
I spent last week salmon fishing the Great Lakes and had a lot of time experiment. My goal was to find a worthy alternative to catch fall salmon for those who don’t have fresh eggs. I found a few that caught fish, and one that performed better than I expected.
But first, I want to set the record straight. Pautzke asked me to experiment and try Trout Eggs for salmon. I was reluctant to try this because of how comfortable I am fishing skein. The truth is I tried Trout Eggs last season and although it did catch fish, it wasn’t my best option. Meanwhile, this year I was determined to try something new with these eggs. I went back to the drawing board and decided to attempt to Fire Cure them, rather than use them out right out of the jar like I did last season.
Salmon prefer sulfite based cures like Fire Cure. I’ve used Fire Cure with success for salmon on skein for many years now, like many Great Lakes anglers. However, I doubted that the Trout Eggs would accept the Fire Cure the same way fresh skein does, but Pautzke said they would give me extra jars of Trout Eggs to experiment, and I did. To my surprise the eggs turned out perfect, and they fished even better than I anticipated. The eggs held the cure well, didn’t pop or burn, and plumped up so well I couldn’t even get the eggs back in the same jar they came in. I literally had a quarter of the jar left outside of it, which is great.
I was impressed with the look and smell of the Fire Cure Trout Eggs, but the only judge that mattered was the salmon. After catching a few fish on skein, I tried the Fire Cure Trout Eggs tied in spawn sacs and kept getting bites. I believe curing Trout Eggs increased the number of bites I got. The salmon were interested. I tied a jar of spawn sacs in various colors of spawn netting to experiment and was surprised how quickly I ran out. No doubt the Fire Cure Trout Eggs tied in spawn sacs work for salmon. It’s a good alternative for those that don’t have access to fresh bait.
Uncured Trout Eggs work great out of the jar for steelhead, but adding the Fire Cure for salmon was key. Salmon clearly want a hot, sulfite egg. For those who are new to curing, Fire Cure is a sulfite-based. Keep in mind, BorX O Fire (the other popular Great Lakes egg cure) is a borax based cure, not a sulfite cure. Now let’s dive into how to cure them.
How To Cure Trout Eggs for Salmon
Fire Cure (Red, Pink or Natural)
Premium Trout Eggs
Atlas Mike’s Spawn Netting
White Magic Thread
Step 1: Drain Juice
Curing Trout Eggs is easier than skein and less messy. It doesn’t require special skills. Even first-time anglers can do this. To start, pour the Trout Eggs out of the jar onto a napkin to drain any excess juice.
Step 2: Sprinkle On Cure
Sprinkle the Fire Cure on the Trout Eggs. You just need to sprinkle enough to cover the eggs.
I personally did two batches: one with pink & another with natural. Many anglers in other areas prefer red and orange, but these are my two favorites and here’s why. Pink seems to work well on fresh skein so I had to give that a try because it’s proven. The reason I wanted to cure some eggs with natural was because I wanted to tie spawn in different colors of netting. If you use the pink on any netting color it’s still going to show as pink because it will dye through the netting whereas the natural wont.
Step 3: Distribute
After sprinkling the Fire Cure on the eggs immediately pour the eggs into a Ziploc. It’s important to shake up the bag in order to distribute the cure evenly.
Step 4: Let it Cure
Make sure all the air is out of the bag and put the eggs in the fridge for 24 hours. This will allow the cure to do its job. I’ll shake the bag a few times just to be sure the cure and juices are making its way in and around all the eggs.
Special Notice: Expect the eggs to Juice
Like with any cure, at first you’ll see a lot of juice in the bag. This is normal. By the end of 24 hours the majority of the juice will be reabsorbed by the eggs.
Step 5: Drain Excess Juice
After at least 24 hours pour the eggs back out on a clean napkin to get rid of any excess juice. I’ll let them sit for 20 minutes so the juice drains well. (This isn’t necessary for the eggs to fish well. It’s just not as messy when tying them.) Some anglers think the cure is done after a few hours. This isn’t true. Make sure to let the curing process work by giving it proper time.
Step 6: Store Until Use
At this point you can put the Trout Eggs back into the jar and tie them as needed.
Step 7: Size It Up
When tying spawn sacs for salmon I aim to use sacs roughly the size of the piece of skein I would use, which is somewhere between a quarter and a golf ball. I used Atlas Mike’s 3×3 squares and it was a struggle to tie the sacs. I maxed them out. Next time I do this I’m going to use Atlas Mike’s 4×4 squares and you should, too. I used white Magic Thread to tie the sacs, but any color thread will work.
Step 8: Choosing Spawn Netting Color
No matter what color you tie the pink eggs in it will be pink so you might as well use pink or white spawn netting. However, for the Natural Fire Cure eggs you cure it doesn’t affect the netting color. This means the natural eggs can be tied it in any color you want. I had best results with orange spawn netting. Try any color you have confidence in.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke pro Jarett Carlson grew up salmon fishing in the Great Lakes. How to videos of this process will be available shortly.