By: Stephen Shen
When fishing New York’s Salmon River with skein it’s important to have eggs that hold color in medium flows. Because we have such clear water we do like our eggs to milk, but visual appearance is more important than scent here. We aren’t trying to catch salmon in muddy or turbid water. We are trying to catch salmon in medium to crystal clear water in a heavily pressured system.
It’s true that when we steelhead fish natural and orange are the best color for eggs. However, when salmon fishing we are trying to capture the fish’s attention. The primary colors for Upstate NY salmon would be red or pink, or a combination of the colors. Remember, you can always mix two different colors of cure to give you a unique color that might set you apart from other angler’s eggs.
Traditionally, anglers run Fire Cure. That’s the staple product to use up here. Meanwhile, because the fish are so heavily pressured I use an alternative. Fire Cure works great, and I still use it, but these salmon have seen many, many, pieces of skein. I want them to see something different. To achieve this I soak my eggs in Fire Brine overnight and then sprinkle powder cure on them in the morning. It works for me and if you follow the steps below it will work for you.
The Salmon River Cure
*To start, take blood free skeins and cut them into bait size chunks. I cut them rather than leave them as a full skein so the Fire Brine penetrates the eggs more and faster. If you put a whole skein in the Fire Brine I don’t think all the eggs cure as uniformly as if you cut them first.
*I prefer Pink Fire Brine and here’s why. Consider this: if I were to use Red Fire Brine the eggs will turn red and I can’t alter them to the shade that I want. You can’t mix colors after that. They end up just being red. However, when you use pink you can get them the red color that I want by using BorX O Fire in the next step after the Fire Brine has done its magic.
*Let’s get to curing. I place the bait size chunks in a Tupperware and submerge them in Pink Fire Brine overnight or for approximately six to eight hours. Afterwards I drain the Fire Brine and lay the chunks on paper towels briefly. The paper towels capture the excess liquid from the brine.
*Then I sprinkle Red or Pink BorX O Fire on the skeins, place them in a Ziploc and tumble them so the cure gets into the eggs.
*I let the eggs sit for three to four hours, again tumbling them a few times. At this point they are ready to fish. One of the great things about BorX O Fire is you can leave them in the bag and you won’t have to worry about them being over cured or burned because there are no sufites in this cure.
Size does matter when fishing skein on the Salmon River and surrounding waters. For example, in lower water and high fishing pressure you need smaller bait. Whereas in higher flows or when targeting less pressured fish you can use bigger bait. To compare: a half dollar would be the bigger bait. The smaller bait would be the size of a quarter.
Editor’s Note: Stephen Shen operates STS Guide Service on the Salmon River. For more info on his guided salmon trips please visit https://www.facebook.com/STS-Guide-Service-Salmon-River-NY-305017530415591 or http://stsfishguide.com.