By: Kyle McClelland
Good bait is everything when targeting Great Lakes salmon. If you don’t have good bait the skein is going to fall apart after every cast and loses color fast. Quality bait is what puts my clients on constant action and is the difference between a good and poor day fishing. I go through more steps than most to make sure my bait is perfect and mix Pautzke Fire Cure with BorX O Fire.
This blog explains exactly how I cure my eggs to get the perfect bait for Great Lakes salmon. What do I consider good bait? I like an egg that maintains color for a long period of time and is tacky, which enables it to stay on the hook. Most of the time the bait I use can be fished until we get bit without the skein losing color or falling apart. The below process maintains the color and shape of the skein throughout many drifts and is what I use daily.
Special Note: For a video of this curing process please click the following link: https://youtu.be/FYMBQhRC_vE
The Perfect Great Lakes Salmon Cure
Step 1: Take Care of the Eggs
So many anglers overlook this step. It’s very important to properly bleed the fish out. This means you need to cut the fish’s gill immediately after catching it and leave it in the water for at least an hour. This allows blood to drain out from the eggs, which keeps the eggs more blood free when you go to cure them.
Step 2: Butterfly
This is a quick step. Remove eggs from the fish. Then butterfly them out on a paper towel.
Step 3: Round 1 of Fire Cure
Add a layer of Fire Cure to each side of the eggs. You don’t want to over cure them. Using too much Fire Cure can hurt your eggs. I sprinkle on just enough to cover the skein, but don’t drown them. Make sure the outer layer of the skein is exposed to the cure.
It’s important to add the cure to both sides of the skein. Therefore, after doing one side flip it over and do the same thing to the other side.
Step 4: Massage and Let Cure
After applying the Fire Cure place the eggs in a Ziploc and let them sit for at least 12 hours. Once you seal the bag massage the eggs so the cure gets in all the eggs. By massaging the eggs in the bag you are ensuring that the cure reaches every portion of the skein. During this process the eggs will juice out and the bag will get wet with juice. This is normal and tells you that the cure is working properly. Later in the cure process the eggs will reabsorb the juices.
Step 5: Dry & Re-Cure with BorX O Fire
After letting the eggs sit overnight in the Ziploc (or at least 12 hours) I take them out of the bag and lay them on paper towels to air dry. Normally, I’ll let them sit for two hours. Then I’ll sprinkle a light dusting of BorX O Fire. What color I use depends on which color of Fire Cure I used. For example, if I used Red Fire Cure I’ll use Red BorX O Fire in this step. (Keep in mind BorX O Fire can’t burn or hurt your eggs like Fire Cure can.) After applying the BorX O Fire I’ll let the eggs air dry for two hours.
Not everyone uses both cures on their eggs. Meanwhile, I perform both steps because the Fire Cure gives them color that maintains itself through many casts, brings the sulfites salmon like and helps them milk better and the Bor X O Fire makes them tacky and more durable. Mixing the two cures gives me the perfect egg. If it didn’t I wouldn’t go through the effort and all these steps daily.
Size & Color
A common question anglers ask is what size piece of skein is best for fall salmon. I play with that daily. I’ll mix it up and try different sizes until I find what the salmon prefer that particular day. Every day is different. Sometimes they want big globs. Others they want tiny pieces about the size of a quarter.
During salmon season I use Red and Pink Fire Cure and BorX O Fire. I always have both colors. Some rivers red works better than pink and others the opposite is true. You have to give the fish options. I know in other parts of the Great Lakes natural and orange are popular, but I don’t use those colors for salmon.
Editor’s Note: To Learn More About XXL Chrome Chasing and their guided Michigan salmon trips please visit https://www.facebook.com/XxlChromeChasing.