By: James Swearingen
Salmon fever is high in the Great Lakes. Many of us are drifting skein or sacks under a float and catching lots of king salmon. Meanwhile, this time of year when we catch Great Lakes salmon most of the skeins are still tight and immature. Because of this many of the salmon eggs I get now I save for winter steelhead and trout fishing.
Egg curing recipes are everywhere. However, I’m going to go over how I like to prepare my Chinook (and coho eggs) for winter fishing. This is a different method than I use for fall salmon. Meanwhile, many of us are now saving our eggs for winter fishing, which is where this technique comes in.
I use Fire Brine on these immature eggs because the eggs absorb the brine and it gives them a fuller profile when tying them into spawn bags for brown trout and steelhead. This is a two-step process that includes Fire Brine and BorX O Fire. I use both because the Fire Brine plumps up the eggs whereas the BorX O Fire toughens up the membrane, makes it more durable, adds scent and milks well.
The below process is my go-to recipe and will work everywhere in the Great Lakes (and in Western Canada where anglers also use sacks).
The UV Cure for Winter Steelhead/Trout
Step 1: The Scrape
Start with blood-free skeins. Then scrape the eggs out of the skein. I do this with a plastic spoon. FYI: When the eggs in the skein are immature they have dimples in them, which is common. Don’t worry. The dimples disappear later in this process.
Step 2: Add Brine
After I scape the eggs I’ll put them in a bag or container and fill them with whatever color of Fire Brine I choose. For steelhead and brown trout I normally use Natural, Orange or Pink Fire Brine. Pour in just enough brine to cover the eggs. It’s important to leave enough room for them to expand, as they will during this process. Normally, these eggs start out at a 6mm size when immature. However, after soaking in the brine they’ll grow to 8mm size, which is perfect for egg sacks/spawn bags.