By Kyle McClelland | 09/07/2014

Michigan is a prime destination for salmon anglers across the globe. Every year when early August rolls around, I find myself itching to be on the river drifting chunks of skein and casting plugs for fresh Chinook salmon. Although the fishing for Michigan salmon can be great at times, it can also be very tough; especially while targeting early season Chinook. Having good bait and knowing what weather to look for plays a huge role in being successful.

Regions of the Great Lakes may be different, but for me living on Lake Michigan’s west coast, a north wind is what us river/pier anglers pray for. A north wind will flip the Lake Michigan water, bringing cold water temperatures next to the river mouths, and will trigger a push of salmon to enter the river systems. If you add a good rain on top of a north wind, then that is just icing on the cake to bring an even bigger push of salmon in. Any time you see a good north wind approaching on the forecast with some rain mixed in, it would defiantly be worth it to hit up the rivers.

River salmon can be rather tricky to catch and sometimes very easy. My favorite methods are casting Thunder Sticks/Rapalas and float fishing skein chunks and spawn bags. Salmon can be picky, so before each trip, I like to make sure I’m prepared with a wide variety of baits. I like to have a couple different colors of skein and spawn bags cured up and in different sizes. I’ll also like to have several different styles of plugs with me as well. Year after year, I find Fire Tiger to be my most productive plug color. Throughout the season, float fishing skein chunks cured in Pautzke’s Fire Cure and BorX o Fire proves to be my most productive method for catching big numbers of Michigan river salmon.


Over the last few years I’ve experimented with several different cure processes, but this year I think I’ve hit a home run. The cure process below has been producing phenomenal for me over the past couple weeks, and has had us hooking kings all day, even on the hottest and sunniest late summer days.

Here’s how I’m curing eggs this year, which is a bit different from what I did last summer and fall, but working well on Michigan kings.


  1. Bleed your fish out and remove blood free skeins from the fish. Place those skeins on a paper towel.


  1. Now it’s time to butterfly those skeins and then apply your cure. Personally, I mix two cures. Depending on the color egg I’m looking for I’ll mix 1/3 Orange or Pink BorX o Fire with 2/3 Red or Pink Fire Cure.


  1. Apply each cure to both sides of the skeins. Use just enough so all of the visible eggs are exposed. Be generous with it, but you don’t want to burn your eggs.


  1. After applying the cure let the eggs air dry on a paper towel outside in the shade for two hours. Then turn the skeins over and let the other side air dry for two hours.


  1. Remove the skeins from the air drying paper towel onto a clean paper bag. Then roll each skein into three sheets of paper towels.


  1. Place your skeins wrapped in paper towel into a Ziploc bag and they’re ready to fish!


When I head to the river I like to have skein cured in 2-3 different colors, which is why I’ve been mixing colors. In addition to the above recipe I’ll try mixing other colors, too. Maybe I’ll cure up a batch of skeins in 2/3 Red Fire Cure and 1/3 Orange BorX o Fire. Then I’ll cure another batch in 2/3 Pink Fire Cure and 1/3 Orange BorX o Fire.


I’ve been very impressed with how well the cured skein chunks have been producing this year. I can’t wait to see how well they’ll produce the rest of the year. This cure saves a lot of time, effort and money particularly because you can get 15-20 good drifts out of each skein chunk, the eggs have good color, a strong scent and milk out well.

Although salmon are the most abundant species found on the piers and in the rivers during August/early September, you should also keep your eggs available for large lake run brown trout and the occasional steelhead that may grab them. Good luck to everyone on the water! Make sure to get out and enjoy the short-lived annual Michigan salmon run!