Curing Trout and Salmon Eggs Made Easy


Perfect spawn equals success on the river. Properly cured eggs look more appealing, smell great and are so much easier to use. But asking a seasoned angler for their secret curing technique won’t come easy. There are three distinct methods to transforming trout or salmon eggs into great bait: water, borax and commercial curing. The first two have been around for decades, while commercial products have gained in popularity. Each process has their pluses, so learn which one best suits your needs.

Water curing is the simplest, but you’ll need to be prepared to do it on the river. Place the eggs in a mesh material or in zip-up laundry bags used for undergarments or use a Ziploc 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 for months like they do through the other methods.

Borax is a commercial mineral with a host of uses, one being a hardener of fresh, fragile eggs. Dusting with Borax dries the eggs without shriveling them. Using a shallow tray, rest the eggs in the tray and apply a sprinkling of borax. Roll them around in the Borax to coat them well. Skein strips need extra powder, especially in each crease. Let them rest in the Borax in the fridge for a few hours. When you’re happy with the texture, sort them into packets and keep them refrigerated or frozen. They’ll stay fresh for months in the fridge and up to a year or two when frozen. Many prefer to tie row bags and then apply the Borax. Either way is successful.

Commercial powders and liquids provide a failsafe method. Follow the instructions and you’re sure to have great baits. The process is similar to using Borax, but it has a few advantages. One plus is being able to dye spawn. At first, I stuck to the natural colors, but slowly experimented with brighter neon dyes with superb results. I now keep several colors on hand to meet river conditions.

Scent is another advantage. Depending on the company, scented versions ensure the eggs have extra perfume to help entice trout and salmon. Not only will you’ll have great eggs, but also a variety in scent and colors to create truly unique baits that will give you the edge on crowded streams.

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When using scent-infused dye powders or liquids, you must use rubber gloves. This keeps cleanup to a minimum. Loose eggs simply need to be rolled around in a container with dustings of powder. Skein can be cut into individual pieces or cured whole. Regardless, ensure the powder is applied evenly.

Liquid formulas are best used with a Ziploc bag. Some seasoned anglers add sugar and Borax or a commercial powder along with the brine to create a wet cure. After a few hours, remove the eggs and allow them to dry on a tray with paper towel in the fridge.

I’m most impressed with how Pautzke’s BorX O’Fire resurrected a batch of eggs I recently discovered in the freezer. With the texture of marmalade, I should have thrown them out, but I wanted to see if I could save them. My hopes weren’t high, but with a heavy sprinkle of the pink BorX O’Fire and several paper towels, I was left with a nice batch of trout eggs.

Spawn is king on the river. Having well-cured eggs can help you have success.