How To Preserve Salmon and Trout Spawn

To autumn trout and salmon anglers, preserved spawn is more valuable than gold.

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 even the most inexperienced trout angler can use to preserve single eggs, spawn chunks and spawnbags.

Single Eggs
1. Remove eggs from the skein’s connective membrane. Place single eggs in a strainer and rinse with cold water. 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 tablespoon of boric acid crystals per quart of water. 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. They’ll keep up to six months in the refrigerator.

Spawn Chunks
1. Dry a skein of eggs (eggs with connective membrane intact) by wrapping it in paper towels and refrigerating for 48 to 72 hours. When the drying period is over, spread a layer of non-detergent borax on some newspaper, then cut the skein into chunks, leaving the membrane intact. Gently coat each chunk with borax.

2. 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. 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.

2. Gather the corners to form a bag from ½- to ¾-inch in diameter and, with color-matching thread, make about six wraps around the tightly formed spawnbag and finish with several half-hitches.

3. Trim excess thread and mesh with a sharp scissors.

4. Place the bags into a jar containing a layer of borax and coat them thoroughly with gentle shaking. The spawnbags can be refrigerated for two to three weeks, or frozen.

Bonus Video: Urban Brown Trout

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