By Duane Inglin | 09/15/2014
Fishing eggs under a float for fall Chinook is a staple in the Northwest. Fishing eggs under a float with a sand-shrimp (the cocktail) may be a better option. On some of our rivers, if you are not fishing sand-shrimp with your eggs under a float for fall Chinook then you are not fishing.
Normally, Chinook are good biters. Meanwhile, eggs cured properly and presented well improve chances for a hook up. In fact, Chinook on several rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest, at times, can be considered relatively easy to entice. However, that’s not always the case. For some reason Chinook on a number of rivers are aggressive towards bait. Others they can be more challenging to get to bite.
For Chinook, there’s one variable that shouldn’t be broken: eggs must be cured in a sulfite cure. I use Pautzke Fire Cure. It’s the best on the market. I also rely on one of two “Go-To” additional baits/scents; tuna or sand-shrimp. Creating the ever so popular “cocktail” is simple. A chunk of cured roe placed in the egg loop with a sand-shrimp is all you need and keep in mind, the fresher the shrimp, the better.
Finding or having fresh sand-shrimp can be a chore. Usually, most local bait shops import fresh sand-shrimp on Thursdays. During the fall salmon season can be sold out by Saturday. Because I don’t like having to plan my days on the river based on when the shrimp is available, I create my own “cocktail-eggs”. Here is the process I use when curing my eggs so I never have to rely on obtaining fresh shrimp.
I never throw away sand-shrimp. Even after a day of fishing, I keep whatever sand shrimp I don’t use, place it in a Ziploc bag and then put them in the freezer for later use. I do this because through trial and error I learned you can’t duplicate the natural oils and scent found in sand-shrimp regardless of the scent manufacturer. This is why I use real sand-shrimp.
From The Bait Lab: D’s Northwest Egg Cure
Make sure the eggs are blood free. Once that’s done, butterfly the skeins to open them up prior to applying the cure. At this point, I take a bag of frozen sand-shrimp out of the freezer. Five or six shrimp is plenty if you’re curing for a couple sets of skeins. Take the frozen shrimp, place them on the floor and pound them with a rubber mallet until all the shrimp are smashed into small pieces.
Then dump the pieces of sand shrimp onto the eggs. Make sure to spread the shrimp and smashed guts onto the eggs because there are many natural oils in the shrimp.
Next, sprinkle Fire Cure. Remember this is a sulfite cure. Less is more. Utilizing a sulfite cure is important as it actually cures the pieces of sand-shrimp too, which ensures it won’t spoil.
Then pick the eggs up on the paper towel and dump them into a gallon Ziploc. Remember to leave a little air in the bag when sealing, so you have room to tumble the eggs while mixing.
For the next couple hours, every 15-20 minutes, gently tumble the eggs mixing up the cure and the egg juice that the cure creates. This is how you get the cure evenly dispersed throughout the eggs.
After a couple hours roll all the air out of the bag and let the eggs bath in the juice. During this time the eggs to reabsorb all the egg juice. Leave the egg roll at room temperature for at least 24 hours, 50-65 degrees is ideal. Then place them in the fridge for 24 hours.
When you take them out of the fridge (if you have done it correctly) 90% of the juice will be reabsorbed.
The combination of Fire Cure with crushed up sand-shrimp is an egg that will fish like no other. Even the most finicky Chinook can’t resist it, as well as Coho.
Editor’s Note: Duane Inglin has been known to sleep with his dog in his Bait Lab and watch the cure work. He’s also the current host of Northwest Wild Country radio in Seattle and spends his fall catching Chinook throughout the Northwest.