Salmon Roe / Prawn Cures for Salmon & Steelhead

Those fishermen/women that use salmon roe (eggs) for bait seem to have very distinct ideas on how to cure it. If You talk to 20 of these people, you will probably get more than 20 different recipes.

Preparation: However before any cures are undertaken, preparation of the eggs as soon as the female fish is caught can make the difference between GOOD roe and NOT SO GOOD final product. For best results, the fish should be bled as soon as possible, the skeins removed, cleaned, placed in a clean baggie and placed on ice in a cooler. In preparing them, you need to cutting the skeins lengthwise, keeping the eggs as intact as possible and keeping them with as much membrane as possible. This membrane is what will hold the bait together when you have the bait in the water fishing. Depending on the size of the skein, you may have to make multiple lengthwise separations.

Cutting them into bait size sections comes by cutting across. Try not to force any eggs loose.

Most of us take what we can get when it comes to eggs to cure. However there are some preferences, depending on your circumstances.

Steelhead eggs: Steelhead skeins are smaller, but Winter fish are usually matured enough to be about the right size and have enough membrane to hold the bait together.

Coho eggs: Eggs from fall fish are mature enough and have enough membrane to egg count to be about perfect for roe bait.

Chinook eggs :

Spring Chinook if taken late in the run work great.

Fall Chinook may just fine, but if taken late, the eggs may be too large and not have enough membrane to hold the bait together for many casts.


Here eggs are being taken from Coho


Storing Baits : Depending on how long you need the baits to be stored will determine the method. Preferred would be refrigerated, but some may go sour or start to mould if kept for some time. Freezing is the other option. I have found that the Colonel Sanders Country Fried reusable containers they serve potatoes/gravy or salad in work great and are about the right size.

Many times you can just cover the bait with a folded paper towel after opening. Leave the now damp towel over the bait. If things dry out a tad, just add a bit of salt water which refreshes the bait leaving it still usable.

Egg Cures: The common consensus is when fishing for Salmon, any of the commercial cures will work fine. However for Steelhead, avoid those with too much sodium sulfite. This saves the natural egg color, if you need more color use Jello in orange or raspberry.

I suggest you purchase the book Egg Cures proven recipes and techniques by Scott Haugen. In it he lists and explains 25 different egg cures. I will give a brief discussion of his favorite here.

Some cures can be used right away, while others need to sit for a while. Others can only be refrigerated, while others may allow you to freeze them. Some may have a self life of a few months to others to a year or two. Do your homework as to your possible usage and pick the cure that fits your needs.

One of the old tried and true cures are a equal part sugar /salt/ borax mix. Sprinkle sugar and salt on the skein, rub in, let sit overnight, drain, cut into pieces (bait size), layer in borax.

A simple one would be, Pro Cure salmon egg cure 1/2 and 1/2 bright red and orange, soak for 2 hrs, remove, let dry for 6-8 hrs, bag in zip-lock bags, refrigerate.

One common thing overlooked is when baiting onto the egg loop tied hook is to have the membrane laying toward the leader and away from the hook itself. This allows the membrane to hold the eggs better, allowing longer time in the water before you need to re-bait.

Here a combo egg/prawn bait is ready



Prawn Cures : You can supplement your bait choices any time of the year by purchasing uncooked prawns from a grocery store. Curing the whole bait gives you an alternative to using just part or the whole prawn, depending on conditions.

Items needed

1 large pot

20-30 small to medium sized prawns with heads on

2 quarts water

2 cups sea salt

2 cups raw sugar

2 cups Pink BorX O Fire

Mix all ingredients in the large pot (outside the house)

Bring to a boil & continue boiling for 10 minutes

Dump contents in a strainer and run cold water over, drain for an hour

Pack in a small container, pouring a small amount of rock salt over them, these can be refrigerated for some time.

If you want to add any flavor, (like egg) add a generous amount of Pautzke Nectar



Copyright © 2012 – 2013  All Rights Reserved

Comments are closed.