By Josh Choronzey | 11/25/2014
The first key to good cured eggs is the egg itself. It’s important to know that very immature eggs in the skein may not cure that well if you scrape them off the membrane. These young eggs will break apart and look like creamed corn. Also, ripe/loose eggs are very hard to cure because they have a solid shell and will not accept a cure. Winter steelhead eggs (December-March) that are in the skein scrape easily and cure the best. I also use fall Chinook eggs, which I cover in this blog.
There are many other factors that contribute to a quality end result. I use Pautzke BorX O Fire exclusively for steelhead. The cure works great, but the eggs must be in good shape to start with to be a viable curing product. Consider the following points and you’re on the path to a good, cured egg.
*Bleed your egg-laden fish immediately after you kill it
*Remove the skeins, do not let water touch them
*Take the eggs home and scrape the eggs off the membrane with a spoon
If you follow the following steps properly you’ll come up with great looking eggs. Mind you, if you deviate from the steps laid out, the eggs will not turn out as they should. The steps to curing and creating the perfect bait are so simple it is silly. Here is my how to procedure to serving up some fine steelhead baits for the early season here in Owen Sound, Southern Ontario and anywhere in the Great Lakes.
The Steelhead Addict Cure (Taken From A Previous Fire Blog)
1. Start with fresh eggs.
On the Great Lakes, we tie and fish “bags” not chunks of roe, which is common out West. Therefore, I catch and kill late summer Chinooks while trolling the big water and save the skeins. Skeins are then scraped by a spoon or with a screen (see Kyle Buck’s technique here https://www.pautzke.com/fireblog_read.php?read=99). This scraping technique separates the eggs into a single form to be tied in bags.
2. Let Em Dry
After I have scraped my Chinook skeins, I transfer the eggs to a paper towel and allow them to air dry for 10-15 minutes. This removes some extra moisture, which will help the cut down the curing time.
3. Add the cure.
After the eggs have dried for a short time I begin to add the Natural BorX O Fire. Each skein worth of eggs receives roughly 2 tablespoons of cure. That isn’t much, mainly because the eggs are now in single form, without the membrane, which soaks up lots of cure. I dust the eggs, like sprinkling sugar on berries. I spoon the eggs around, ensuring each one receives the cure.
4. More Dry Time
Once the eggs have been sprinkled, I allow them to air-dry further on paper towel. You will notice that the shells on the eggs begin to toughen up. Depending on how moist the eggs are and how much cure you added, the drying process my take up to an hour.
Once the eggs appear to be “dry”, you can roll them around with your fingers to see if they are no longer sticky. Sticky eggs are not what you are looking for with this process. I like a dry egg for my early season chrome. Once they are dry, I transfer the eggs to small Ziplocs as the curing process is now done. At this point, I begin to tie my bags.
5. Tie Em Up.
For early season steelhead, I tie my Natural BorX O Fire eggs in Redwing scarf material. I like the natural cure because the steelhead I am targeting are keying in on eggs fresh off the redd. Hot colored eggs come into play later in the fall and in high stained waters. My “bags” usually only incorporate a few eggs (say 3 to 6 Chinook eggs) in order to keep my presentation on the minimal and realistic.
I tie bags in peach, white and soft pink scarf. These eggs can withstand the abuse of the heavy flows I fish them in. I do not have to worry about breaking eggs and having to re-bait on a regular basis.
Editor’s Note: Josh Choronzey lives in Ontario, Canada. Team Pautzke will be filming Pautzke Outdoors with him in December.