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Kokanee Special: How to Cure Your Own Corn

By Rick Kennedy
For more than 15 years I’ve been guiding for kokanee in California and while a few things have changed when it comes to terminal tackle, one thing hasn’t: We all tip our baits with corn. When I first started, everybody made their own corn. And, some still do.

It’s always been a contest to see who makes corn that has the best scent. And, we’ve tried just about everything. Over the years we’ve added all kinds of concoctions to the corn from maple syrup to brown sugar to anise and garlic. Some work better than others, but most of that is personal preference.

Making your own corn can be a messy, time consuming process. I’m proud to say I don’t do it often anymore. Some of the downsides to making your own corn include the need to keep it refrigerated or cooled and the fact that after the hard work required to produce it, the corn spoils easily.

When Pautzke introduced Fire Corn™ several years back, for some anglers, it was the recipe we’d looked for, for years. Since then, for the most part, I’ve used nothing but Fire Corn. However, there’s still a little of that old-school desire in me to mix my old concoctions. Of course, creating your own corn can be rewarding. It can be a challenge to come up with a recipe that works and watch it catch fish.

There’s no doubt you can catch fish on plain canned corn. However, adding scent and color enhances the corn to trigger more frequent strikes, while toughening it up too. Color seems to make a big difference. Whether on their bait or dodger, kokanee experts have confidence in pinks, reds and chartreuses, but at times all colors are in demand.

When Pautzke introduced Fire Corn™ several years back, for some anglers, it was the recipe we’d looked for, for years.

I’ve used countless recipes over the years. However, my most productive recipe is nothing more than a can of white shoepeg corn, Pautzke Fire Cure and Nectar®. It’s a simple, straightforward recipe that anyone can master and yields fantastic results.

Here’s what I do:

Step 1:
Dump one can of white shoepeg corn in a one gallon Ziploc bag. (Do not drain juice.)

Step 2:
Add approximately one tablespoon of Fire Cure to the bag. (Color varies, by choice.)

Step 3:
Add one-half cup of un-chlorinated water.

Step 4:
Seal the bag, mix it and place in cooler/refrigerator. Leave overnight.

Seal the bag, mix it and place in cooler/refrigerator. Leave overnight.

Step 5:
Drain liquid. Place corn on several paper towels. Pat extra moisture off.

Step 6:
Place back in container (Ziploc bag, Tupperware, etc.) and add a few teaspoons of red Pautzke Nectar. The corn is ready to fish.

Rick Kennedy makes own fishing corn.


One of the most important parts of this process is achieve good, vibrant colors. Fire Cure is serving as our dye; Nectar our scent. You can adjust the color by the amount of Fire Cure you sprinkle on and how long you leave the corn in the Ziploc with it before you drain the juice out. The more you put in and the longer you leave it in the darker it gets. And, the tougher the corn gets. It’s important to remember that Fire Cure has sulfites in it and everyone knows how well salmon take to sulfites. That’s another reason why I put the Fire Cure in my corn.

The only bad part about this process is the limited selection of the colors of Nectar. I use red Nectar because they don’t make pink. There are four colors of Fire Cure (red, pink, natural and orange). And, here’s how I utilize them.

-Red Fire Cure = Red Shoepeg Corn

-Pink Fire Cure=Pink Shoepeg Corn

-Natural Fire Cure=Keeps Shoepeg Corn in its natural state.

-Orange Fire Cure= Orange Shoepeg Corn

Pautzke Nectar has been used to create feeding frenzies with salmon for longer than I’ve been alive. MyOutdoorBuddycom

Often, I invest in colors that aren’t part of this spectrum. And, when I do I turn to natural Fire Cure. If I want yellow, purple or blue corn I’ll use the natural Fire Cure and then use yellow, blue or purple Nectar to dye/scent it. For orange I’ll use orange Nectar. Obviously, for the red corn, I’ll use red Nectar.

Why do I use the Nectar? Nectar adds sweetness to the shoepeg corn, to which I know kokanee are attracted. Pautzke Nectar has been used to create feeding frenzies with salmon for longer than I’ve been alive.

Note: Just because you cure it doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep it cool. Leaving it in warm temperatures for extended periods will spoil the corn and turn it to mush. Thus, keep it cool.

Rick Kennedy, one of the top guides in northern California is the owner/guide of Tightlines Guide Service and is one of two California guides listed in the HaberVision Sunglasses Fishing Guide Directory. would like to thank the Pautzke Bait Co. for allowing us to pass this tip along to you, which also appears in the Pautzke Fire Blog.

[Editor's Note: Please share with our readers what you know that will enhance the experience of fishing in Northern California or Southern Oregon. What have you learned? Your expertise, no matter where you fish (fresh or saltwater) or what species you target, could be invaluable to other anglers. What not to do is just as important as what to do. Please send your strategies, ideas, tips, techniques and personal experiences to Please include your name and hometown.]

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