There are many effective cures for steelhead. On the Chetco and Smith, borax-based cures, and Jello cures are popular. My baits are cured with natural colored Pautzke BorxOFire, with sugar added. I use a mixture of 2 parts BorxOFire and 1 part sugar. I'll also add anise oil or anise-krill oil. Steelhead have a sweet tooth, and will hammer a borax-sugar cured egg.
I butterfly the skiens and then cut the clusters into quarter to golf ball size chunks and add a generous coating of the BoraxOFire-sugar mixture, roll the bait around, and then cure for three days in a ziplock bag. I add the anise or krill oil the first day of curing. After three days, I dry the eggs for a few hours and then place them in a jar. They will keep in the fridge for several weeks.
I also carry a second cured bait at all times, usually the Buzz Ramsey three parts borax, two parts sugar, one part salt. It is similar to the BoraxOFire, but without the krill. Sometimes is is what the fish are craving.
First of all, thanks for an informative post. I have 2 questions about your bait curing process:
1) Do you store your bait any differently if it's going to be more than "several weeks" before it's fished?
2) I also often add Anise to my eggs with one big difference to what you do. I'll thaw my eggs the night before, lay them out and then
add the anise or whatever other oil-based scent I'm using. I find the scent on the eggs to be a bit more "powerful" the day I use them when I do this. Clearly, your system works but I'm hesitant to commit eggs to a particular scent ahead of time as it's sometimes months before I use them and don't always know what fishery they'll be used for.....different scents for different fisheries. Do you think I'm handicapping myself by doing the night before method? I catch my fair share but hey, if there's room for improvement, I'm all ears.