How To Borax Cure Great Lakes Salmon Skein

     One of the best baits you can use this fall to catch Great Lakes salmon and brown trout from shore is egg skein.  However you have to preserve or "cure" skein in order to store it for use throughout the season.  The best method I've used to cure skein is commonly known as the Borax Method.  All you need is paper towels, a spoon, a box of Borax, and some Ziploc Freezer Bags.
     Actually the first thing you'll need is obviously a female King Salmon that's still full of eggs.  Luckily for me I've got a few buddies that are getting really good at catching these magnificent fish from their kayaks so getting my hands on the skein is actually the easiest part.  If you're not so lucky then check out my post on salmon rigs that you can use from shore.  Then go catch a fish and get the eggs.  Take your time...I'll wait for you.
     Got the fish?  Good, once you have the egg skein rinse it off really good and set it out to dry on old newspaper or paper towel for a bit.  Make sure the sections are clean and free of blood.  Blood left in the veins will ruin the cure as it rots so really take your time and make sure ALL the blood is gone.  After an hour or so the eggs should set up and will look clean (not milky) and should have a tacky (not sticky) feel to the touch.  
SBH Tip: Remove any clotted blood in the veins of the skein by cutting a small opening at one end of the vein and gently rubbing the vein with the back of a spoon to work the blood out of the opening.  A dry folded paper towel will also help draw the blood from the veins.
     After the eggs have setup and are blood free cut the skein into user friendly golf ball size chunks.  This size is what you want when baiting up on the shoreline so taking the time to cut them up now will make it easier when your hands are frozen on those cold October mornings.  The smaller size will also make coating the skein evenly in the Borax much easier.
     The next step is bagging up the skein and adding the Borax.  I use 1 quart freezer bags because they fit easier in my backpack.  Most of the other guys I know like to use the 1 gallon size freezer bags.  Doesn't really matter just load them up.  Over the last few years I've learned that 10-12 chunks is what I normally use over the course of a morning when I'm out fishing by myself so that's how many I put in the bag.  After you get all the chunks in the bag add Borax and start shaking the bags up.  This goes pretty fast if you can get some buddies or in my case the kiddos involved.
     The final step is to check each bag carefully after shaking it up.  You shouldn't see any eggs that look wet when you're done shaking the bag.  If you see wet eggs or shiny skein add more Borax to the bag.  Trust me you'll use way more Borax than you expect.  Borax is cheap and you can't really over do it so error on the safe side when bagging up.  Make sure you allow the bags to sit for at least an hour or as many as 6 hours before you freeze them for future use.
     Using this method to cure the eggs is almost foolproof if you take your time.  I ended up with 10 bags of cured skein from the 6 salmon skeins that my buddies gave me after the kayak fishing trip.  Throw them in the freezer and they'll keep for about a year.  To use all I have to do is let them thaw out then toss them in my backpack.  Simple, cheap, and extremely effective.
     Tight Lines.



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