By John Albrich | 12/04/2012
(Editor’s Note: This recipe also works exceptionally well for single eggs. Simply substitute the single eggs when skeins are mentioned.)
I used to use BorX O Fire on every egg I cured for steelhead. I’d butterfly the eggs up, throw them in the Ziploc, add the BorX O Fire and get great eggs. But, these eggs weren’t ready to fish the next day and as a fishing guide I go through a lot of eggs. Most of the time I’d have to wait a day or two before the cure did it’s job and the eggs were ready to be dried out to where I want them consistency wise.
This season, meanwhile, I’ve been experimenting and using more Fire Brine than BorX O Fire. With Fire Brine I’m saving time and effort. After a full day on the river, I don’t want to have to cure eggs and carefully watch and prep them. Fire Brine allows me to drop the full skein (or skeins) in a plastic Tupperware and walk away to have dinner with my family. The next morning they are ready to fish. It’s really that simple. In fact, I could fish them after just a few hours, if need be.
Using Fire Brine brings several advantages, namely time, ease and even more thoroughness. With Fire Brine you don’t have to butterfly your eggs. With BorX O Fire you do in order to get the cure in between the folds of the skein. Fortunately, Fire Brine doesn’t require that. Because it’s a liquid, the eggs absorb it all. The brine doesn’t discriminate on any egg in the skein. The liquid fills in all the spaces.
While wet brines are still common, for me doing this is kind of like going back in time. This is the way my dad cured eggs. It’s an old-school wet brine, yet produces a soft, plump, sturdy bait. A wet brine, like this, sucks all the juice in and produces a nice, firm egg with vibrant colors. Even better, Fire Brine works as sorta of a safety net. When butterflying a skein, as we discussed prior, if you miss adding borax on any of them, those eggs aren’t going to get the color, but with the Fire Brine they are all getting the same amount of the brine. Consistency is never a problem.
The Albrich Winter Steelhead Fire Brine Recipe
Necessary Contents: (The below measurements will do up for four skeins of eggs)
1 bottle of red Fire Brine
¼ cup of pink, orange or natural BorX O Fire
¼ cup of pure sugar cane
5-6 drops of pure anise oil
½ teaspoon of Fire Power (pure krill powder)
Mix all contents, place into Ziploc or Tupperware and allow sitting for a minimum of four hours. The beauty of Fire Brine is you can leave them for two days and they won’t burn. However, they’ll be done brining within six hours, max.
*Make sure skeins are blood free.
*Why BorX O Fire?
Why do I add BorX O Fire to the brine? Not everyone adds BorX O Fire to Fire Brine. It will brine without doing so. Personally, I use the BorX O Fire to get krill in the eggs and to make a firmer bait. Consider that borax dries things out. The borax will help firm the membrane and give you and all around better egg.
Once I remove the eggs it’s time to air-dry them. The reason you air-dry them is to make a firmer bait. These are for steelhead. They don’t want wet, drippy eggs like salmon do. Depending on what you are fishing for is how much dry time you allot.
Since we are fishing steelhead right now I like to dry them to where they are tacky to the touch or where I can touch the eggs and they almost stick to my fingers. It depends on the room temperature, but they can be done in just a couple hours.
You just need to monitor them to your preference. Your local river is going to fish different than mine. For steelhead season you don’t want to just pull them out of the bag and fish them. Drying them is important, especially side drifting.
*Why Add Scent?
I want my eggs to have scent to them. When a fish bites that egg they are going to taste that scent and that’s what is going to make them hang on. I personally add krill and anise oil, but there are many other options. That’s another personal preference.
*Choosing Fire Brine Color
Many people ask me which color of Fire Brine to use. I choose red most often because of the UV properties in the red. The chartreuse also does. But, I’ve used orange and natural too. By using natural Fire Brine you’ll make a beautiful natural colored egg.
*Storing Fire Brine Eggs
If I’m not going to fish them right away, I’ll dry them, put them in a Mason jar and vacuum seal the jar. If you do this they’ll stay good for at least a few years.
If I’m going to fish them within a few weeks I’ll dry them out, roll them in paper towels, put them in a Ziploc bag, take the air out and place them in a freezer of refrigerator. Always take as much air out of the bag as you can.
Ensuring Eggs Don’t Get Moldy
*If you leave eggs out at room temperature with too much air in the bag they are going to get moldy.
*If you don’t keep them cold, they’ll get moldy. It’s just like a loaf of bread. It’ll turn green.
*The eggs are perishable. You need to take care of them properly or mold will be an issue.
Pautzke pro staffer John Albrich spends his winters guiding for steelhead on Idado’s Clearwater River. To learn more please visit reeltimefish.com