By: Jeff Goodwin
We are edging towards the historical peak of the fall salmon run on the Sacramento River in Corning. Meanwhile, the Salmon God has apparently failed to remind the king salmon it’s time to push upstream. This year’s salmon run on the Sacramento River was forecasted to be one of the best in several years. Well, lots of guides and recreational anglers are going bald scratching their heads trying to figure out where all these salmon have gone.
The ocean season started out with big numbers and the in river salmon openers were good, too. Since then it’s been small pods of fish spread throughout the system. No one has experienced consistently good salmon fishing. In fact, I’ve been running trips almost daily since the August opener. Not one of our three guide boat captains have caught more than five kings on any given day. It’s created a lot of frustration for our guides and clients. However, in the big picture, we’re coming in with above average catches when comparing numbers with a lot of other boats. I attribute a lot of our success to fishing experience, but above all other things it’s our great bait that keeps us in the top tier of the fishing guide industry in Northern California.
Good bait is critical when fishing for Sacramento River salmon. That can’t be disputed and never is in my circle of friends, guides and fellow fishermen. Successful salmon guides tend to keep three to four different types of cured eggs in their boat. Most have base cures and add to them throughout the day attempting to dial in the flavor for the day or the particular bait that will trigger bites from these finicky fish. It’s no different for me day to day, but there is a component to my cures that is ALWAYS present, and that’s the use of Pautzke’s Fire Power (powdered krill). Below you can see what Fire Power looks like on the eggs.
I ordered several cases this year, but ran out and had to get more! (Keep in mind they come 12 bottles to a case. I have been going through that much of it.) Next years order will require a pallet forklift and freight shipping to my front door. Krill is a big deal. I’ve been keeping track of my best performing Pautzke bait cures for years. It’s no big secret that salmon like krill based scents and I prove it to myself every year, over and over again. It’s not just powerful for egg cures, but it’s also super beneficial on many other baits like sardine wraps, Fire Corn and in steelhead/trout baits as well.
Base cure for Sacramento River Salmon
*3 cups of Red Fire Cure
*1/2 bottle of Fire Power (powder krill)
*1/2 cup of sugar (early season)
*1/2 cup of sea salt (late season)
I pour the above ingredients in a blender and thoroughly blend them together until the cure is a fine texture and all ingredients are completely mixed up. It’s important to get all the ingredients spread evenly through your eggs during the curing process.
Once the mix and blend is complete I put the mix in a gallon plastic bag. I’ll pour the mix into the empty Fire Cure shaker bottle so I can use the shaker to apply the cure mix to my eggs when I’m ready to cure.
After laying out your open egg skeins shake a layer of the Fire Cure blend evenly over each skein, berry side up. Make sure the cure is in all the egg folds and covers as much of the berry side as possible. Turn the eggs over and shake a light coat onto the membrane side of the skeins.
Place them in a gallon plastic bag (no more than half full and I prefer a 1/4 of the bag) and roll them around gently for a few minutes until they start to juice up. I then re open the plastic bag and add a 1 second burst of Pautzke Nectar to the bag (for those who don’t know, Nectar is pure salmon egg juice).
Then I zip the plastic bag and roll the eggs around for a minute before placing them into my bait fridge. Many guides leave the eggs at room temps so they juice out more quickly. Unfortunately, my garage averages 120 degrees all summer so my eggs go straight into the fridge. This slows the curing process a bit, but I don’t want to warm up my eggs.
Once the eggs have juiced out and re absorbed the juices I pull them out of the plastic bags and drain what little juice remains on the eggs while in the fridge.
Once the eggs are free from excess juice I get them ready for the paper towel burrito. The last step before rolling the skein in the burrito is to add more Fire Power!
Roll the paper towel burrito and place them in a plastic bag. Mark the bag with your cure type and date them. This will help later on when you pull them out to thaw before use on the river. This is a killer cure for me and is a top base cure for just about any day I spend on the river when fishing for salmon.
*Fire Power is fairly easy to find in Northern California. I’ve seen it at most Walmarts, Sportsman’s, Bass Pro and some tackle shops.
*Editor’s Note: Jeff Goodwin operates Jeff Goodwin Guide Service. For more info on his guided Sacramento River salmon trips please visit https://www.jeffgoodwinfishing.com or https://www.facebook.com/jeffgoodwinfishing.