Properly cured eggs look appealing, smell great, and are easy to use as bait on trout streams.
Seasoned anglers won’t usually give away their curing techniques. But I’m willing to share some of my secrets, so you can enjoy both a DIY project and more fishing success.
There are three methods for transforming trout or salmon eggs into great bait: water, Borax, and commercial curing.
The first two have been around for decades, while commercial products are slowly gaining in popularity. Each process has its pluses, so we’ll cover all three and you can choose the one that suits you best.
1. Plain H2O
Water curing is the simplest method, but you’ll need to be prepared to do it on a river.
Place the eggs in a mesh material, such as a small zippered laundry bag (used for lingerie), or a zip-lock bag with a few tiny holes in it. Simply flush the eggs with river water a few times and drain them.
Never use tap water. This method works best with fresh eggs. Unfortunately, they won’t last as long as other methods, which are good for a few months.
2. All-purpose Borax
Borax is a commercial mineral with the consistency of a powder. It has a host of uses, one being a hardener of fresh, fragile eggs.
Dusting with Borax dries the eggs without causing them to shrivel.
Using a shallow tray, rest the eggs and apply a dusting of Borax. Roll them in the powder to coat them well. Clumps or strips of skein will require extra powder, especially in the creases.
Let the Borax-coated eggs rest in the fridge for a few hours. When you’re happy with the texture, sort them into packets and store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
They’ll stay fresh for months in the fridge and up to two years when frozen.
3. Off the shelf
Commercial powders and liquids offer a failsafe method. Follow the instructions and you’re sure to produce great bait.
The process is similar to using Borax, with a few advantages.
One plus is being able to dye the spawn. At first, I stuck to natural colours but then slowly started experimenting with brighter, neon dyes with super results.
I now keep several colours on hand to meet different river conditions.
Scent is another advantage. Scented products ensure the eggs exude an extra perfume that helps entice trout and salmon. Not only will you have great quality eggs, you’ll also have a variety of scents and colours to give you the edge on crowded streams.
When using scent-infused dye powders or liquids, always wear rubber gloves. This keeps your hand clean-up to a minimum.
Loose eggs simply need to be dusted with powder and rolled around in a container. Skein can be cut into smaller pieces or cured whole. Regardless, ensure the powder is applied evenly and thoroughly.
Liquid formulas are best used with a watertight zip-lock bag. Some anglers also add sugar and Borax, or a commercial powder to the liquid brine to create a wet cure.
After a few hours, remove the eggs and allow them to dry in the fridge on a paper towel-lined tray.
Spawn is king on the river. Having well-cured eggs will ensure every day you’re out there is a great one.
Watch the how-to video now:
This article first appeared in the April 2016 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. You can subscribe here.