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How to air cure trout roe or skein, primarily used for Ice and Still fishing

Air drying Trout Roe is a preservation method we use primarily for roe that will be used as bait either Ice or still fishing in cold water periods. During the winter months, trout remain in many of the harbors and rivers in the Great Lakes. During the cold water periods the metabolism of the trout slows down. The roe used as bait hangs motionless beneath a hole drilled into the ice. The trout will very slowly approach the bait and have a long period of time to examine and smell the bait. Air drying does not add any foreign smells or scents to the bait and on some days when the fish are very selective can out fish other cured roe during the winter months.

Step 1: Fresh roe or the skein is removed from a female brown trout. The fish should be bleed by cutting the gills immediately when caught. Bleeding will improve the quality of the roe.

Step 2: Pat the roe dry with unscented paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Any blood that remains should also be removed.

Step 3: Remove as much moisture from the roe as possible. This will decrease the drying time required.

Step 4: The roe is cut into smaller pieces with a sharp scissors. The roe or skein is cut along the natural folds in the trout skein. We like to cut the pieces into a size generally used for a days fishing.

Step 5: Place the smaller pieces of trout skein on several layers of paper towels. The paper towels are placed on cardboard. Both materials will help absorb moisture as the roe dries. Place the drying roe in a cool location or refrigerator. The drying time will vary based on the current humidity. We like to air dry the roe for 8-12 hours at a temperature near 40 degrees.

Step 6: The air dried roe pieces should have a tacky feel and be dry to the touch. You do not want the eggs to harden too much.

Step 7: Place each piece of dried roe into an individual sandwich sized plastic bag.

Step 8: The plastic bags containing the dried trout roe are then placed into a larger plastic bag. Label and date the plastic bag. We place the labeled bags into an air tight plastic container in the freezer. Air dried trout roe can be kept frozen for a year if stored properly.


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