How to Cure Shrimp Like a Pro

Salmon season has been gangbusters for us in the Pacific Northwest this year and while we’ve been using shrimp for as long as I can remember the brines we use are improving annually. I’ve tinkered with my formula again this summer and have come up with a recipe that saves me time, while also producing vibrant colors and a strong scent, which paves the way for success daily.

Shrimp continues to be an up-and-coming hot bait for salmon. Personally, I like this particular shrimp brine best for sockeye and spring Chinook, but it does work on steelhead and fall salmon. I brine my shrimp for a few different reasons. It toughens them up so they stay on the hook longer, aids in UV light reflection, improve scent trails and brings the attraction of color.

We often field many questions as to why we use brines to color shrimp. For the same reason we all use different color lures for salmon and different color egg cure, I also use different color shrimp. We could debate this all night, but I think we’d all agree that fish react to different colors at different times. Therefore, I have different color shrimp to get the fish what they want as light conditions change throughout the day.

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It’s no secret that UV enhanced gear is producing more fish from coast to coast. Using UV enhanced Fire Brine and Fire Dye gives me a huge boost over those that don’t take advantage of using UV light. I’ve been running two trips daily for a few months now, but wanted to take a minute to share my exact recipe to get my clients consistent limits of fish. There are many of good brine recipes out there. Meanwhile, this one is ready to fish in three days and will last for months if kept cold. Keep in mind, some brines take months or more to cure shrimp.

The brine I used last summer, and in years previous, took a while. I needed a faster brine, which prompted me to come up with this new recipe. I also wanted to integrate more sodium sulfite rather than a borax based cure, which most guys have used to the past. This is why I went with more Fire Cure this go-around. The current recipe brings more vibrant colors in a shorter period of time (it’s taking three days rather than a few months.) You’ll notice I’m using Fire Brine and Fire Dye. This gives the shrimp a deeper color and stronger UV properties.

The Contents:
1 Quart Jar
Coon Shrimp
1/4 Cup Raw Sugar
1/4 Rock Salt
Fire Brine (Various Colors)
1/8 Cup Fire Cure (Various Color)
Fire Dye (Various Colors)
2 Tablespoons Fire Power (Krill Powder)

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Let’s Make Some Shrimp!

This is an easy brine to make quality coon shrimp.

Step 1: Add ¼ cup raw sugar, ¼ cup rock salt, 1/8 cup Fire Cure and 2 tablespoons of Fire Power to the jar. Seal and shake well to mix dry ingredients.

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Step 2: Add enough Fire Brine to fill one-third of the jar.

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Step 3: Add the shrimp. Feel free to fill the jar with shrimp. I use frozen shrimp and
sometimes add scent such as Anise extract from the spice isle at your local grocery store during this process.

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Step 4: Liberally add a few long squirts of Fire Dye. This strengthens the UV properties while also extending the vibrancy of the shrimp.

Step 5: Place in refrigerator and rotate the jar at least once daily. I try to shake and rotate a few times each day. After three days they are ready to fish. On the other hand, if you keep them cool for a week before fishing they’ll come out even better.

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Tip: This works on all shrimp, not just coon shrimp. It will work on prawns, salad shrimp, etc. Curing meat is curing meat. You might have to let prawns sit longer because they are larger, but this will work.

Special Note: Here’s a chart to achieve a rainbow of colors.

Blue Shrimp: Mix Blue Fire Brine, Blue Fire Dye, Natural Fire Cure
Red Shrimp: Mix Red Fire Brine, Red Fire Dye, Red Fire Cure
Orange Shrimp: Mix Orange Fire Brine, Orange Fire Dye, Orange Fire Cure
Purple Shrimp: Mix Purple Fire Brine, Purple Fire Dye, Natural Fire Cure
Chartreuse Shrimp: Mix Chartreuse Fire Brine, Chartreuse Fire Dye, Natural Fire Cure
Pink Shrimp: Mix Pink Fire Brine, Pink Fire Dye, Natural Fire Cure

Editor’s Note: Brad Wagner operates Bobber Down Guide Service. For more info on his guided trips please visit www.fishwenatchee.com.

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