By: Mike Ainsworth
Fall is upon us and that means it’s time to start curing eggs for fall salmon and winter steelhead. While many factors lead to having quality eggs I believe anglers would have better eggs if they didn’t overlook the crucial care of eggs leading up to the curing process. To achieve a great cured egg for future fishing it’s important to preserve the eggs before curing.
Let’s go over how to do so.
Step 1: Proper Pre Cure Care
Make sure to always bleed your fish before it dies. This is achieved by cutting the fish’s gills thus allowing the salmon to bleed out. This will keep blood from flowing into the skeins of the eggs. Some people like to hit the fish over the head before doing so. This is fine, but try not to go too crazy with bat killing the fish. You do still want the heart beating so it pumps the fish dry of blood when you cut its gills. The gills are like major arteries. Cutting them will empty the fish’s body of blood while the heart is still beating. However, if you hit the fish too hard with a bat or club this will kill the fish resulting in less blood loss when cutting the gills.
Consequently, some anglers don’t believe that blood in the eggs is a game changer. I prefer to error on the side of caution and hold faith that at least some fish do not react well to lots of blood in the eggs. In addition, this is an easy step to do while on the water to produce a better- cured egg.
Step 2: More Care
Now that you have a properly bled the salmon there will usually still be a little blood left over in the skein. This is easily removed by cutting the end of the egg sac (or cutting them in half) and then using the back of your scissors to push it down the vein onto a paper towel, which will absorb the egg’s blood.
Step 3: Fly & Cure
I like to butterfly my eggs to allow for better egg cure absorption. (When curing salmon eggs) for the past few years I have been doing a 70/30 blend of BorX O Fire and Fire Cure.
I prefer more borax to sulfites. Keep in mind you can always add more sulfites later down the road if you feel that it’s needed. I have I found that steelhead do not prefer a heavily sulfite cured egg as much.
In addition to the BorX O Fire and Fire Cure I’m adding in a hefty dose of Fire Power (powdered krill) and Fire Brine to the mix. Pacific salmon and steelhead eat krill, which is why I add the Fire Power. The Fire Brine makes for a much more moist and plump egg.
Add all these ingredients into a Ziploc, seal the bag and tumble thoroughly to allow the mixture into all the nooks and crannies of the eggs.
Then place in the fridge to keep cool and allow the cure to work. I then tumble the mixture every hour, or so, to allow a thorough coating on the eggs. Typically, I allow the eggs to soak for at least 24 hours, but I’ve also fished them the next day with an overnight soak and caught fish. Follow these easy steps with your favorite Pautzke colors to achieve a great egg for this upcoming fall and winter fisheries.
Editor’s Note: Mike Ainsworth operates Fire Light Guide Service. For more info on his guided salmon trips please visit www.firstlightguideservice.com.