Change Up Eggs to Catch More Great Lakes Winter Steelhead

By: Stephen Shen

This time of the year in the Great Lakes we are forced to fish more limited sections of our rivers due to winter conditions such as low flows, cold temperatures and ice flows. Because of that the brown trout and steelhead that are in these accessible winter holes see much more angling pressure than fresh run fall or spring steelhead.

When fishing these spots classic offerings like Natural BorX O Fire spawn sacs will still take a majority of the action throughout the day, but at times continually running the same bait, or the same colors, will result in the fish becoming numb to your presentation.

Utilizing other products, in addition to Natural BorX O Fire can lead to catching bonus fish. Switching to a spawn bag with a heavy additive of Fire Power can lead to additional bites in winter holding holes in heavily pressured Great Lakes tributaries. For anglers who are unaware of the advantages of Fire Power this product is simply a straight krill additive that can be added to any egg. Although BorX O Fire does contain some krill I’ve found great success adding a heavy dose of Fire Power, at times, to increase the amount of scent that comes off my egg.

For example, on New York’s Salmon River the School House Pool sees boat and bank anglers from dark to dark from November through April. These fish will still take a Natural BorX O fire spawn bag, at times, but having alternative baits to switch up to can lead to putting extra fish in the net. In addition to Fire Power, other options to throw Great Lakes steelhead a changeup would be tweaking the color of the eggs you are curing. For example, I’m still going to cure my eggs in Natural BorX O Fire. It’s my go-to base cure. Meanwhile, adding the lightest sprinkle of Red or Orange Borx O Fire can spur bites. The goal is to show the fish a shade of egg color they haven’t’ seen all day.

My Cure

I start with loose or scraped single trout or salmon eggs. I sprinkle Natural BorX O Fire on them like you are sugaring berries and then mix the product into my eggs. Once the Natural BorX O fire is mixed in I put the smallest amount of Red or Orange BorX O Fire on top, just enough to tweak the color slightly. I start with a quarter teaspoon of red or orange cure and then add more until I get the shade of color I’m aiming for. Keep in mind you can always add more cure to make your eggs darker, but can never make them lighter after using cure to color them.

Mix the cure in so the eggs are covered and let the magic happen. Remember, your eggs will look wet and shriveled. This is all part of the curing process. Give the cure ample time to work. At the end of the process you won’t even remember your eggs didn’t look good at one time. I’ll let them cure overnight so the BorX O Fire can do its job.

By the morning you’ll have beautiful, plump eggs that are ready to be tied into the spawn bag color of your choice. I use Atlas Mike’s spawn netting and tie the bags with Magic Thread. It is at this point that you can add Fire Power to some of your eggs to give yourself a change up egg to use in the conditions that are described above. Fire Power is a product that I find you can use heavily on your eggs. Don’t be afraid to pile it on. Remember this doesn’t cure your eggs it’s just an addictive or bite stimulant. It can’t hurt or burn your eggs. It won’t ruin your cure product.

Editor’s Note: Stephen Shen operates STS Guide Service. For more info on his guided winter brown trout and steelhead trips please visit