This time of year I spend a few days week salmon fishing for Chinook and coho. My favorite technquie for targeting fall salmon is with a float and eggs. There’s something about fishing cured salmon roe under a bobber that gets me excited.
For decades I’ve found myself talking with other anglers about egg cures. The number one question often asked is which cure is better for salmon season: Fire Cure or BorX O Fire? The easy answer is either works. However, understanding the difference between the cures and why/when to use each is important.
Fire Cure is a sulfite based cure. It works well for salmon. Fire Cure is designed to stimulate even the most lock-jawed salmon into striking your bait. It creates bait that’s deep red in color and milks a tremendous scent trail.
BorX O Fire is crafted for steelhead. It has no sulfites and creates an egg that is much dryer/gummier than a Fire Cure cured bait. The eggs do milk out, but nothing compared to eggs cured with Fire Cure. Many wonder if Fire Cure is engineered for salmon why use BorX O Fire, which is engineered for steelhead, to cure my eggs for salmon fishing. This is a great question. Let’s discuss it.
Pictured here are coho eggs. They are mature, however; still have tight skeins with skin that are a vehicle to hold the eggs together. The larger skeins are obviously Chinook eggs. They are also mature and substantially looser with less skin cradling the eggs. To me, this is the deciding factor when it comes to which cure I use. Tight skeins get Fire Cure. Loose skeins, BorX O Fire.
The following are my tried and proven recipes that put more fish in your boat or on the bank. I’ll dissect how to create the best eggs with loose or tight skeins.
As with any eggs you intend on curing remove the blood from the skeins. With fresh roe it’s easy to push the blood along the veins and absorb it away with a paper towel at a small cut created with scissors or a knife.
Once the blood is removed the eggs are ready to cure. Starting with quality clean eggs is a must to ensure a quality finished product.
With coho skeins it’s simple. While you don’t need to add scent I’ve been doing it lately. I cut fresh sand-shrimp into small pieces and spread them evenly across butterflied skeins. Then I sprinkle Fire Cure on skeins. Next, pick up the paper towels at the edges, lift the skeins and dump them into a gallon Ziploc. I’ll describe how to finish the process later.
With the looser Chinook skeins it’s more involved but the extra effort is absolutely worth it. Start with a full bottle of Red BorX O Fire and pour it out into an open container. Next, add one ½ cup of white refined sugar, a rounded tablespoon of Fire Power (krill powder), one rounded tablespoon of sodium sulfite and mix thoroughly.
Chinook skeins are large so cut them into manageable size sections for curing. The next ingredient relies on your ability to search on the net. (This step isn’t necessary for a good cure, but I’m a big fan of it and do it regularly.) Google “ sardine powder”. If you can find it, order some and give it a try. Natural, dehydrated ground sardine powder is a fantastic additive as a scent and bite stimulant. Sprinkle the sardine powder on the skeins before the cure.
Sprinkle the BorX O Fire that you previously prepared.
Again, simply pick up the edges of the paper towels and dump the eggs into a gallon Ziploc.
Once the eggs and cure are in the bag you’ll want to add Red Nectar. The extra egg juice is necessary to add enough moisture to re-hydrate the sardine powder. Usually, a quarter bottle is sufficient. Don’t worry about an exact amount. We’ll drain excess liquid when prepping the eggs for fishing.
To create eggs that are extremely deep red I add one tablespoon of Pautzke’s new Red Fire Dye. This adds a tremendous amount of color and UV.
Once all ingredients are in the bag gently tumble the eggs around to ensure they are cured evenly. I tumble the eggs every 15 minutes for the first two to three hours.
Finally, roll the air out of the bag and ensure that the eggs are surrounded by juice. Leave the eggs at room temperature for 24 hours. This gives them adequate time to reabsorb as much juice as possible. Putting them in the refrigerator in the first 24 hours slows the process.
There’s still juice remaining. Especially with the BorX O Fire go ahead and drain the excess Nectar. Whether using Fire Cure on tight skein eggs or BorX O Fire on looser, mature eggs the curing process is the same. Once in the Ziploc it’s important to allow the eggs to cure completely. Leave them in the bag for the above-mentioned time frame. After the first 24-hour the eggs are ready to freeze or take fishing.
Editor’s Note: Prepping the eggs for fishing after you take them out of the freezer will be part two in this series. Duane Inglin is the host of Northwest Wild Country radio based in Seattle. He has his own Bait Lab in his house.