By Duane Inglin | 01/01/2012
Pautzke Director of Operations Chris Shaffer and I talk often. He knows how much I enjoy playing with bait and frequently picks my brain, so when called to ask if Fire Brine would work on single eggs my immediate response was “why?”
Shaffer called because he knew over the summer; fellow pro Nick Petosa and I headed over Snoqualmie Pass to the Pautzke factory to help “tweak” an old family recipe and create Fire Brine. Another words, he knows I know what’s in Fire Brine and why it works so well. Shaffer called to ask and tell. Ask, “Didn’t you guys design this for herring, alewives, anchovies, sardines, squid and shrimp only?” My reply, “Yes, absolutely.” Tell, “Well then you better call the guys in the Great Lakes, because they are using it to cure single eggs.”
I told Shaffer I’m sure it’d work great. I knew it worked great on egg skeins, which is what I was planning to do this winter for steelhead. I was confident it would work on eggs because of the ingredients. Trust me when I say Fire Brine has everything necessary to do a good job of curing the fore-mentioned baits and single and skeined eggs. It’s about to become a staple in the industry and is much different than other brines on the market.
Shaffer’s question was will it work on single eggs. This is something few do in the Northwest. We steelhead fish, but don’t normally cure single eggs or tie spawn sacs. I’m guessing 90% of us fish cured roe. Just to mess with him I cured single eggs with Fire Brine and sent him this photo to ask if this was what he had in mind?
To say Shaffer was not amused is an understatement. Bottom line is you can use Fire Brine for Easter Eggs and just about anything.
Although growing up I watched my dad cure eggs in borax, wet-brining eggs has been a staple of salmon and steelhead fishermen for as long as I’ve been alive. However, it wasn’t until I was about 20 that I discovered information on how to wet-brine baits. Through trial and error, I finally was wet brining eggs with good success. As my fishing evolved, I switched to Pautzke’s “sprinkle cure” line-up and found a dry cure that was easy to use and flat out produces fish. Since then I’ve been teaching others how to create the ultimate salmon and steelhead baits using our Fire Cure and BorX O’ Fire.
That being said, once I got our new Fire Brine I had no doubt it’d be great to cure eggs for steelhead fishing. I quickly headed back to the bait lab to create the perfect steelhead egg. The truth of the matter is it didn’t take long. Curing eggs with Fire Brine is fool proof, even for beginners.
Using Fire Brine is a simple way to produce a steelhead bait with perfect texture, color and fish-ability. When it comes to steelhead baits I’m looking for that gummy-bear consistency. I like a bait that is tougher and tighter then my salmon baits and Fire Brine creates a bait with those qualities. If you are looking for a durable steelhead bait for side-drifting Fire Brine is ideal.
Now that I have your attention, I’m going to tell you exactly how simple it is to create this durable bait to add to your egg arsenal. For me, curing eggs in gallon Ziploc baggies is an easy, clean operation. With five color choices, plus natural, Fire Brine gives you options when deciding what color you want to create.
The wet brine formula is simple. I like to pour a 1/2 bottle of Fire Brine into a gallon Ziploc freezer bag and then add 1/4 cup of white refined sugar and 1/4 cup of Natural BorX O’ Fire. I use Natural BorX O’ Fire so I don’t change the color of the dye in Fire Brine and the color it puts on my eggs. That’s not to say that I couldn’t mix some of the colored BorX O’ Fire to create additional colors I may discover work well, though.
Place your egg skeins in the bag, seal it and gently tumble the eggs in the wet brine to mix the contents. Much like curing with our sprinkle-on cures, you’ll want to gently tumble the contents every 15 minutes for the first hour. After that you can let your eggs bathe in the Fire Brine for at least three more hours ( for up to three more hours. A good time base to follow is, for 2 to 4 skeins a total time of two to three hours may be all that is needed. If you are curing 4 to 6 skeins, it may take up to four hours. The bottom line is you need to check the eggs for that rubbery consistency you are trying to achieve, after two hours and then every 1/2 hour until the eggs are cured to your liking). At this point you will have achieved maximum color absorption and the eggs will be completely cured. Don’t worry about burning your eggs in the four-hour time frame. This is not a hot sulfite cure, so you don’t need to worry about that. Ready for the next step? There isn’t one. That’s it.
After four hours, I’ll take the eggs out of the Fire Brine and place them into a container lined with a few layers of paper towels. I like to make sure the container is long enough that I can lay the skeins out flat, egg side down, skin side up. Once on the paper towels I place them in the bait fridge overnight. They’ll be ready to fish in the morning. I put them on paper towels to help draw off the extra moisture from the wet brine. It helps get the skeins to a rubbery consistency sooner.
As far as choosing which color – that’s up to you. We have provided the opportunity to challenge any water condition. The natural, red and orange are automatic go-to’s. However, don’t discount chartreuse. Chartreuse eggs look similar to orange or natural, depending on the color of the eggs when you started. Don’t be misled. Chartreuse eggs out perform in low light conditions and dirty water. “Why?” It’s simple UV. I don’t really need to expound on this topic. This photo proves my point.
The UV’s with red and chartreuse are amazing. Meanwhile, purple also has value, namely in low, clear water and normal winter run conditions. Also, give blue a consideration for steelhead low in the system when fish still key in on blues and greens.
*The above formula is best with eggs slated for steelhead fishing. If using Fire Brine on eggs for salmon replace your 1/4 cup of Natural BorX O’ Fire with 1/8 cup of Fire Cure. I substitute the Fire Cure to add a sulfite base to my eggs, which we all know is exactly what salmon want.
*The 1/2 bottle of Fire Brine and 1/4 sugar with 1/4 BorX O’ Fire is the ratio I settled on. That’s not to say that if I had a good number of skeins to cure, I could simply double the ratios and use a full Bottle of Fire Brine.
Good luck on your wet brining endeavors.