By: Todd Daniels
Curing pink salmon eggs is different than curing other salmon and steelhead eggs. The outer cell of pink’s eggs is a thinner membrane compared to coho and Chinook. Therefore, you have to treat them more delicately. For example, I go lighter on the cure and use a combo of BorX O Fire and Fire Cure because I want a little less sulfite on the eggs. This combination plumps the eggs up and doesn’t shrivel them up as much. In addition, it’s important to use less cure with pink eggs than on other species of salmon eggs.
If you were to cure pink eggs like you normally do other species the pink eggs milk too quickly, which means those eggs lose scent quicker in the water and they fall apart faster on the hook. This goes back to the outer membrane not being as durable. However, as long as you cure the eggs properly they fish very well. Many anglers prefer to use pink eggs for coho and when cured properly that’s a great idea.
There’s many ways to cure pink eggs and have them turn out good. Below is how I cure them for use on coho.
The Cure for Pinks
Step 1: Keep Cool
We have warm water in the PNW right now, which means it’s important to bleed your pink right away and throw it on ice. This preserves the meat and the eggs. Once you harvest the eggs from the fish after fishing place them in a Ziploc and keep them cool. I’d recommend curing eggs within 24 hours of catching the fish. Otherwise, they’ll start to spoil.
Step 2: Cure
I take the eggs out of the Ziploc, lay them on a paper tow and butterfly them open. Then gently sprinkle a 50-50 mix of your favorite colors of BorX o Fire and Fire Cure. You can mix and match them to achieve your desired egg color. I take Red Fire Cure and Natural BorX O Fire because I like getting a natural color and one that’s not too vibrant. I don’t want my eggs to be too vibrant because I deal with clearer water in the fall. Mixing those two colors gives me the color I need. If you have darker water mixing pink and red cure works well.
Step 3: Room Temperature
After sprinkling the cure on them while on the paper towels put them back in the Ziploc and leave them at room temperature for two hours. This helps the process of juicing of the eggs begin.
Step 4: Time for the Fridge
Put the eggs in the fridge and let them sit overnight. The next morning tumble the bag to even the distribution of cure and juices. I’ll repeat this technique after I’m back from fishing. At that point they are ready to be dried for fishing. If I’m not going to fish them right away I’ll put them straight into the freezer. If I’m going to fish them the next day I’ll continue with the next next step.
The day before I‘m going to fish the pink eggs I place them on a drying rack to help toughen them up. How long I let them sit depends on temperature outside. A good rule of thump to follow is to allow the eggs to dry until they achieve a gummy bear like consistency.
Editor’s Note: Veteran PNW guide Todd Daniels operates Tall Tales Guide Service. For more info on his guided pink salmon trips please visit http://talltailsguideservice.com.