By Ted Kessler | 11/26/2010
While our window to catch them is short compared to what guys out West are used to, the Niagara River produces a consistent run of Chinook salmon each fall. And, a rainy, cool late September drew many kings into the lower Niagara River this year, which is common. However, the way many anglers targeted them is evolving here in Upstate New York. While this is my second season using BorX O’ Fire and Fire Cure, many others had their first shot at trying it out this fall and from what I’ve seen it’s been working wonders.
Light shades of orange and pink Fire Cured eggs and BorX O’ Fire spawn sacs readily enticed our kings. It’s now steelhead season and the Niagara is filling with chromers as we speak, however, for the past two months I’ve seen many 8-12 fish days with crushing hits on pink spawn sacs filled with BorX O’ Fire eggs.
This past season, which lasted from the end of September through the third week of October, saw many healthy 3-4 year old Chinooks. Rather than seeing a big push at once, that cool September coupled with dependable rainfall helped draw consistent runs of kings throughout the season. The number of fish combined with Pautzke Fire Cure and BorX O’ Fire equaled daily limits of salmon in the mid 20-pound class.
From what I’ve been told, on the Niagara we face a unique challenge similar to Northern California’s Smith River: extremely clear water. We can thank the zebra mussel, one of our invasive species, for this. The clear water is desirable for other species, yet causes our salmon to become spooky and selective. Dark red, orange and pink eggs don’t draw hits as they did, historically. Over the past decade, we’ve learned to lighten up our eggs.
Fortunately, lightening up is a process made simpler with the assortment of colors in Fire Cure and BorX O’ Fire. What I’ve done is blended the cures to achieve the exact colors we’ve been trying to attain. When targeting the kings, I’ll sometimes mix orange, pink and natural Fire Cure to get a light orange/pink egg. Normally, I’ll use 50 percent natural, 25 percent orange and 25 percent pink to get a real orange egg with almost a pinkish glow to it. But, when the water is extremely clear I’ll mix 75 percent natural Fire Cure with 25 percent orange Fire Cure.
In order to keep consistency, I’ll premix the colors in a Ziploc bag before applying to the eggs. This distributes the color in a uniform manner. Sometimes after we haven’t had any rain the water can get very clear. And, when this happens I’ll switch to BorX O’ Fire and fish the loose cured eggs tied into dime size spawn sacs. Again, we use the same color cutting process in the loose egg curing. With the borax, though, I’ll usually just run natural, but at times I’ll add pink and red, depending on watercolor. All the light egg presentations are fished on 15-pound P-Line fluorocarbon leaders to finish off the perfect clear water presentation. So, if you are ever facing clear water conditions try mixing your cures and lighten those eggs up – and you’ll find success – like I do.