By: Jason Thatcher
Not every curing method is the right one for every fishing application. This holds especially true when pursuing king salmon in-river. Is a hover-fishing bait or tidewater bobber bait ideal for side drifting and boondogging or vice versa? No, not really. To maximize bait’s effectiveness successful anglers tailor their bait to a particular application.
October is prime time on many rivers to gather, cure and stockpile eggs for the current and upcoming fishing seasons. The following is one of my preferred curing methods for side drifting eggs, dragging or boondoggin.
Covering a lot of water and making long drifts is an effective way to put salmon in the tank. However, it’s hard on an egg cluster. I’ve found this cure necessary to produce a tougher egg that can take abuse and finish an entire drift as opposed to one that milks out quickly and is primarily used for hover fishing, or fishing straight down with a heavy weight.
I save as many early season eggs as I can for dragging baits. I prefer the smaller eggs with tighter skein so I can make small, tight, bait clusters. I will save the larger balloon eggs for the hover fishing described in the previous paragraph.
Making Perfect Side Drifting Eggs
*Start the process by scraping any excess blood from under the skein’s membrane. I use the blade of a knife to apply light pressure to push the blood out to the end of the membrane. Then follow up by patting it dry and clean with a paper towel.
*Then butterfly the skein and lay it egg side up.
*Sprinkle Red Fire Cure on the eggs and let it sit for several minutes until it begins to juice.
*The Fire Cure is followed by a healthy dusting of Fire Power (krill powder).
*I then go back and rub the cure/krill into the eggs to ensure it gets in between all of the folds.
*Then flip the eggs over and do a light coat of cure on the membrane side.
*Let the eggs sit for a few more minutes and then place them into a glass canning jar.
*With the eggs in the jar squirt in about a quarter bottle of Red Fire Dye.
*Seal the jar and rotate it. Swirl the jar so the dye and cure gets mixed up and coats the eggs. I keep the jar at room temperature, swirling the eggs and flipping the jar end over end every few hours. The eggs are then placed in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, making sure to flip the jar twice a day (in the morning before I head to the river and when I get back to the shop for cleanup).
*Then remove the eggs from the jar and lay them on a rack for the drying phase. I prefer stainless wire racks over stainless cooking sheets. They are easy to clean and last for years. The racks promote great airflow around the eggs. They can be found at most restaurant supply stores and are a great investment for a home ‘bait lab’.
*Let the eggs sit out until they become tacky. The amount of time depends on the conditions that particular day.
*Keep an eye on them. Once the eggs are dried to my liking I create a mixture of BorX o Fire and Fire Power in a separate container (brine tubs from restaurant supply stores work great).
*Then take the BorX O mixture and sprinkle it onto the egg side of the skein, taking care to get it in between all of the folds. Flip the skein over and coat that side as well, rubbing the BorX O into the membrane.
*Then roll the skein into paper towel ‘burritos’. At this point I will place several burritos into a gallon Ziploc and label them with the date and “dragging eggs.”
This phase of drying and adding the BorX O creates a tougher egg/membrane. Your burritos can be fished, or frozen, after a few more days in the refrigerator. This time is needed for the BorX O to work its magic so don’t overlook this step.
This process may not produce the ‘do-it-all’ eggs, however it has proven to make some great dragging egg for me. They are resistant to the line drive cast, the hook-set-on-rocks-not-fish and the abuse that is dished out on an egg cluster by fishing so close to the river bottom. Not to mention, the salmon eat the heck out of it!
Editor’s Note: Jason Thatcher is based in Northern California and operates River Pursuit Guide Service. For more info on his guided salmon trips please visit https://www.facebook.com/JTrpgs or https://www.riverpursuit.com.