Learning How to Cure Eggs for Salmon and Steelhead Fishing

Any Northwest river fisherman worth his salt cures his own roe.

To the river fishing junkie, a freezer full of perfectly cured salmon eggs is more valuable than money in the bank. A healthy stockpile of salmon roe is critical for a successful fall fishing season. And that is why, throughout my fishing life, summer fishing trips always ended with the ceremonial cleaning of the boat, filleting of the fish, and the awkward silence as every member of the crew wonders, “so who’s gonna lay claim to those eggs?”

Just like most of you, I used to slowly accumulate my fall fishing munitions. A few skeins here, a few there until I (hopefully) had just enough to feel comfortable starting my fall river fishing season. Now I spend a few months every summer in one of the fishiest places on the planet: Cordova, Alaska. I have the perfect curing process and return with as many cured eggs as I will need for the entire season, affording me the luxury of a surplus and affording my friends the luxury of a friend with a surplus.

I feel like I put out a high quality product. The ultimate litmus test: my eggs consistently catch fish. But gaining the confidence that you can put up quality eggs can only come with experience. It can only come with experimentation. Trust me, plenty of batches will be ruined.

There are a great variety of bait cures on the market; each can create quality bait. Each has a varying degree of color, addition of scent and additives, and amount of sulfite. How does one choose? Lure your fishing buddies over to the house with a 6-pack for a meeting of the minds, scour the depths of the internet for trusted opinion or better yet, pick up a few jars and do a little experimentation. Make a mental note of which cure seems to “burn” the eggs more, which cure has a more potent dye, and especially which cure gives you the best product.

My personal favorite cure is a mix of store bought cures, dyes and other ingredients.

My favorite salmon cures…
Pautzke Fire Cure
Pro-Cure
Beau Mac Pro-Glow
Nate’s Bait Egg Cure
Amerman’s Egg Cure

My favorite steelhead cures…
Pautzke Boraxo-Fire
Pautzke Fire Cure
Beau Mac Pro-Glow

curing-eggs

After many years of experimentation, I finally feel confident to cure large quantities of salmon eggs. Here is a batch of precut cured clusters ready to be boraxed and bagged for steelhead season.



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Andrew Moravec

Andrew Moravec has been sharing his passion for fishing with folks around the Pacific Northwest for over a decade. He has worked in the Tackle Industry as a buyer, managed a Sporting Goods Shop, as an Alaskan Fishing Guide, a Westport Deckhand, and currently is operating Fishing Charters in Seattle, Washington.
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