Last Saturday we were fortunate enough to get out and fish the harbor again. Based on the future weather outlook this may have been our last trip on the hardwater. That's fine with me, winter is getting old and I'm ready for the spring mass Coho migration! We fished the morning and ended up catching 4 trout all released to swim another day. The four fish were an even mix of Steelhead and Browns. We had a bunch of short strikes and few lost fish as well.
As is so often the case the window of opportunity was very short. Out of 5+ hours of fishing all fish came in less then an hour. This unfortunately is very typical when fishing the harbors. All I can say is stick it out and if you're using the right baits and tackle they will turn on sooner or later.
Just like last weekend the bite was predominately on spawn. Three of the fish came on Automatic Fisherman, two on chartreuse spawn sacs and one Brown on a shiner. We caught the big brown of the day while jigging a firetiger marabou jig tipped with a chartreuse spawn sack.
As always Pautzke's BorX O' Fire cure in the natural color impressed not only me but the trout as well! This cure is really easy to use and works just as well in the streams as below the ice. Having a good cure that works is awesome for us weekend anglers. Fresh eggs need to be exactly that...fresh! Fresh eggs are only good for a short period of time. Luckily cured spawn seems to work better.
Pautzke's cured spawn continues to milk scent and retain it's color multiple times longer then uncured spawn, and that is the key to it's effectiveness. Remember regardless of weather you are using cured or uncured spawn you must first start out with a good egg, and that starts the minute you catch the fish. Browns that you catch in the harbors during the winter months are full of loose spawn. This makes it really easy since all you need to do is milk the eggs (softly push on the stomach and slide your fingers down towards the anal fin) out of the fish into a bag. This is great since you can release the fish and Browns taste like garbage.
Steelhead are a little different since most steelie eggs are still in the skein. So to get at Steelhead eggs you will need to kill the fish. If you decide to keep a hen steelhead make sure to cut the gills from the fish immediately. Cutting the gills will bleed out the fish and minimize unwanted blood in the eggs. Once you get home you will want to remove the eggs from the skein, use a plastic spoon for this. I scrape the eggs onto a paper towel. Take the eggs from the paper towel and tie them into sacks about the size of a dime. If you're curing the eggs simply put the eggs you wish to cure in a Ziploc bag and sprinkle the cure on the eggs. Softly massage the cure throughout the eggs using the bag. I always start with less cure and add more if necessary.
After you thoroughly coat the eggs set the bag in the fridge and let the eggs sit for an hour. Pour off any extra juice after the hour in the fridge and you are ready to start tying.
I recommend curing your spawn right away when you get home. Do not leave uncured spawn in the fridge for more then 24 hours. If you can't take care of the eggs right away or want to leave the eggs uncured then freeze the cleaned eggs into manageable portions.
If you take one thing from this post remember, do not wash the eggs off!!! Washing the eggs with water will cause the eggs to harden and they will not accept a cure. In addition, the eggs will be more susceptible to breaking. Use paper towel to pat off any unwanted blood, not water.
Want to read more about spawn curing? Then check out this post: The Perfect Spawn Sack