One of the best baits to catch salmon with, in particular Chinook salmon in Pacific Northwest rivers, is salmon roe. Salmon roe are the eggs removed from a cleaned female salmon. The eggs themselves are too fragile to fish with in the raw state; however, after a little preserving with powdered borax they become tough enough to bounce along the bottom of the river. Powdered borax can be purchased at most grocery stores.
Slit the underside of the salmon open with a sharp knife; do not plunge the knife in deep as you may cut through the egg skeins. Remove the two long strips of eggs. They are attached to a tough membrane.
Wash the eggs in cold clear water and pat them dry with paper towels. Lay the skeins on the board and cut across the egg strips every 2 inches. Each 2-inch section of eggs must remain attached to the membrane.
Pour a 1/4-inch layer of borax in a pan, covering the entire bottom. Lay the cut pieces of eggs in the pan on the borax. Cover the eggs completely with borax. Gently work the borax into each piece. Put the pan in a cool place, away from sunlight and water, to let the eggs dry.
Drying time will take two to three days. While the eggs are drying, turn the pieces over every 12 hours. Keep a space between the sections, don't let them touch.
When the egg sections have thoroughly dried, they will have a tough leathery appearance. Pick up each piece and shake the excess borax off. Put the pieces in zip-lock plastic bags and store them in the refrigerator. They can also be put in the freezer and kept for longer periods.
- When cleaning the salmon, cut up the underside of the fish toward the head, keeping the knife moving away from yourself.
- While sectioning the skeins, cut carefully and press down against the board to prevent cutting yourself.
- Handle the skeins gently to keep the eggs intact on the membrane.