The Remedy For Steelhead Lockjaw? Try Pregnant Eggs

By Paul LeFebvre | 03/02/2014

Steelhead season is in full swing here on the Southern Oregon Coast with Springer fishing just around the corner. As most who follow Joey LeFebvre and I know our go to steelhead egg cure is two parts BorX O Fire and one part sugar, a recipe that has become a mainstay for us. We cannot deny the success with this cure.

Sometimes steelhead can be damn finicky, so much so that we try different cures to mix things up a bit. This year, Andy Martin (of Wild Rivers Fishing) and I were fishing over a rolling school of steelhead and no one was biting. Time and time again we made excellent side drifting passes and the fish ignored our steelhead candy. What would it take to get these fish to bite? They were certainly there in good numbers. After at least 10 passes, Andy made the suggestion that I coat my offering with shrimp oil for a pass and see what happens. Bam! A beautiful 10-pound steelhead on the next pass. Once again mixing it up has done the trick. It is very important to carry several egg cures / approaches with you when steelhead fishing in case your mainstay or go to recipe fails to get bit.

BorX O Fire is a great cure and is very handy for quickly curing eggs and fishing the next morning. However, if one has a few days, one can use a trick with Pautzke’s Fire Cure to literally impregnate eggs with different scents, or enhance the already great krill additive that comes with the product. Enter the Pregnant Egg!!

Here is how this works. Fire Cure is a wet cure. As such during the curing process juice from the eggs are extracted across the egg membrane forming a liquid bath. This liquid bath cures the eggs and is present for about a day or so.

(Above) Two sets of eggs curing in Pink and Orange Fire Cure shown at the “juicing” stage. Joey and I use one-quart jars for our wet cures so we can “roll” the eggs and uniformly disperse the liquid extracted from the eggs.

After some time the eggs begin to re-absorb the juice, and cure, by sitting and being rolled in the previously extracted juice. Then, after about three days the eggs have re-absorbed the juice/cure mixture and the curing process is complete. If done correctly, with the right amount of cure the, the eggs should have re-absorbed almost all of the juice.

Here is the trick. If you monitor the wet cure process carefully, wait until you see the “juicing” at the point where the greatest amount of juice is present… open your jar and introduce an additive. Now, the additive must be a liquid to diffuse back into the egg. The egg will become pregnant not only with the cure/egg juice but your additive of choice. I caution not to get carried away with this…sometimes 3-5 drops in a quart jar is sufficient to “taint” the basic egg scent with the additive. Add three drops – roll – then smell the eggs and see if you can pick up the scent. Adjust if you need to but be careful you can ruin a batch of eggs if you go to far.

Some of our favorite additives are listed below…use at least 3-5 drops but you can experiment using your own nose as your guide.

•    Pautzke’s Liquid Krill – to enhance the krill scent beyond the stock cure.
•    Sand shrimp oil – steelhead and salmon are tuned to this scent
•    Anise oil – why they hit this I don’t know but don’t get carried away with it.
•    Other bait fish oils like herring and anchovies
•    Something I have not tried yet

After introducing the additive you want, roll your eggs constantly during the next eight hours. Sometimes I sit and tie leaders or goof off in the shop for hours while rolling my eggs. If your additive is oil based then you must roll frequently to prevent separation and defeating the whole process. Be patient.

After completion of this curing process, we cut our eggs in small bits and layer them in borax in small containers. We cut only enough for an outing each time we go so as to preserve the bulk of the eggs in their jar in the refrigerator. By following the recipe in this blog you now have variety of “Pregnant eggs” to try when the steelhead get finicky and don’t want to bite your offering.