By Duane Inglin | 09/03/2013
There’s more than six million pink salmon returning to Puget Sound and rivers that flow into The Sound from now through mid October. Most of our rivers have a limit of four salmon, which translates into an unbelievable opportunity to harvest eggs, which only happens every two years.
However, curing eggs from pinks requires care. The one thing that’s different about the pink salmon, in general, is that it’s a soft fish. They have soft mouths, meat and this also holds true with the roe. It’s a softer roe than we’d expect from chums, silvers and kings.
One thing I’ve noticed in year’s past is if you use a stronger sulfite based cure you don’t end up with as durable as an egg as you would with Coho, Chinook and chum. So, you have to approach it different. The pinks have a softer membrane. You have to cure them differently to produce a quality egg that fishes well.
The cure I have great success with is as follows.
The Cure For Millions of Pinks
Step 1: The Mix
I mix the following contents into a large bowl.
1 bottle Red BorX O Fire
1/2 Cup of Sugar
1Tablespoon Fire Power (Krill Powder)
1Tablespoon of Sodium Sulfite
Step 2: Stir
Stir the above contents well, mixing thoroughly.
Step 3: The Dump
Dump contents into jar for storage. For Humpy eggs, I cure them to make them a bit tougher, so they fish well. If you use a stronger sulfite based cure, like Fire Cure, it tends to weaken the eggs too much and they tend to fall apart easily. Fire Cure is a great cure, but not my 1st choice for Humpy eggs. These are a much softer egg and need to be treated differently.
Step 4: Time For The Wet Brine
I’ll take my pre-mixed BorX O Fire (described above) and use it in a wet-brine. This can be done with 6-8 Humpy skeins, even as many as 10, because they are small.
Using a gallon Ziploc add a1/2 bottle of Red Fire Brine and the
1/4 cup of the pre-mixed BorX O Fire described in Step 1.
You may also add additional scent at this time. For example, I’m using dried-crushed tuna. I like to use powdered scent additives, which break down in the liquid and add scent to your eggs. I avoid oil-based scents while the eggs are curing. They change the way the eggs absorb the cure and make them soft.
Step 5: Add Skeins
First make sure your skeins are blood free and then go ahead and place 6-10 skeins in the brine for roughly 3-4 hours. If you only have four skeins a 2-2 1/2 hour soak time is sufficient.
You’ll know the brine is working when you see the skeins take on a deep, red color change. You can also check them by feeling them through the bag. You’ll notice that the eggs begin to feel a bit firm.
Step 6: Remove From Brine
Once cured, I take them out of the brine and put them in a container lined with two or three folded paper towels. I place the eggs in the container, egg side down, skin side up. This allows excess liquid to drain off the skein. I put a lid on the container and place it in the bait fridge. These eggs are ready to fish by the next morning. They’ll feel rubbery and firm, but that’s ok. They milk out great and fish well. If you desire an egg that milks out more or is a bit wetter simply add some Pautzke Nectar the evening before or morning.
Keep in mind this recipe is for creating a bait that will fish well for fall salmon, mainly kings and Coho. To cure Humpy eggs that I intend on using for steelhead, I’ll use the same process, but remove sodium sulfite from the mix.
It’s important to remember you have options. Based on the color of Fire Brine you choose to mix with your BorX O Fire you can create dark red, pink/red or orange eggs.
Editor’s Note: Pautzke pro Duane Inglin runs The Bait Lab during the Pacific Northwest show season. He resides in Puget Sound.