Preserving Salmon And Steelhead Spawn
Trout anglers from New York to Washington State count spawn, steelhead or salmon, as their No. 1 bait. Preserving eggs toughens the fragile membrane and makes it possible to store them long-term and use them weeks or months later. There are countless recipes for preserving fish eggs, including many that add scent and flavor to the bait.
Here are three simple options for preserving single eggs, skein chunks and spawnbags.
Preserving Single Eggs
1. Place single eggs in a strainer and rinse with cold water (Picture 1). Allow to dry for an hour or two, until the skin appears wrinkled.
2. Soak the dried eggs in a boric acid solution made with 1 table of boric acid crystals per quart of water (Picture 2). Stir periodically until the eggs lose their wrinkles.
3. When the eggs feel firm and rubbery, drain them in a strainer and spoon into a small jar (Picture 3). They’ll keep for up to six months in the refrigerator.
1. Dry a skein of eggs (eggs with connective membrane) by wrapping it in paper towels and refrigerating for 48 to 72 hours (Picture 1a).
2. Spread a layer of non-detergent borax on some newspaper, then cut the skein into chunks, leaving the skein membrane intact (Picture 2a).
3. Coat the egg chunks with borax (Picture 3a).
4. Add an inch of borax to a small jar, drop in the coated egg chunks and cover with an airtight lid. Shake the jar gently to thoroughly coat the chunks (Picture 4a). They can be frozen or kept refrigerated for two to three weeks.
1. Cut nylon mesh into 3-inch squares, then add chunks of spawn or loose eggs (Picture 1b). Use various colors to match water clarity and fish preference.
2. Gather the corners of the mesh square to form a bag from ½- to ¾-inch in diameter (Picture 2b).
3. With color-matching thread, make about six wraps around the tightly formed spawnbag (Picture 3b).
4. Hold the wraps with your fingers to keep them from unraveling, then tie several half-hitches around the bag (Picture 4b).
5. Trim excess thread and mesh (Picture 5b).
6. Place the bags into a jar with a layer of borax and shake thoroughly to coat them (Picture 6b). These spawnbags can be refrigerated for two to three weeks, or frozen.