By: Brian Kelly
With the winter doldrums slowly easing off expect mild weather to jumpstart those stale winter steelhead holdovers and attract fresh contestants as the spring run begins to take shape. Egg presentations have always been a staple among the hardcore steelheading contingency, but a few simple tweaks to your eggs can lead to extra hook ups. Steelhead are notorious for their sense of smell, but they also possess a keen sense of vision. Combine these in your egg presentation and you’ll have the local steelhead population on sensory overload! Let’s take a look at three different presentations that will help you get more fish to the bank this season.
1) Blood Dot Egg Sacs
While steelhead tend to willingly inhale all things pink, there are times when water conditions call for a change in tactics. High, stained water conditions are the norm from February through April in the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest. It takes the right combination of scent and color to trigger bites in what many consider the toughest water conditions of the season.
Steelhead skeins that are scrapped and cured in Pink or Natural Borx O Fire is the first part of the equation. This cure is a staple for many chrome chasers around the country, and for good reason – it catches fish! But, there is a way to add more color and scent to make the ultimate egg sac. Adding Balls O Fire eggs (Orange Deluxe, Yellow Jackets, Premium eggs) to the sac greatly adds to the overall color and scent profile.
For many years I have used the red Balls O Fire eggs (mostly Premium & Green Label) when tying fresh sacs for a trip to the river. The trick is add the Ball O Fire Egg first and then layer the cured eggs before tying up the sac. I recommend getting the Balls O Fire egg at the bottom of the sac so the contrast in color is obvious to the fish during your drift. The new colors to the Balls O Fire line up, Chartreuse Garlic and Pink Shrimp should prove to be dynamite additions to the egg sac arsenal this season. However, it’s important to make sure the Balls O Fire Egg is a contrasting color from the netting you plan to use. For instance, red or pink eggs with white or chartreuse netting and chartreuse eggs with pink netting are a killer combo in water with limited visibility.
2) Shrimp and Eggs
Want to really blow a steelheads little mind? Give them two of their favorite meals at one time! Shrimp, either raw, cooked or cured, have been taking steelhead for many years. Adding this proven killer to your egg sac routine can pay huge dividends. I prefer to soak my cooked shrimp in Fire Brine at least overnight to add color and more scent before adding to the egg sac. As with the Balls O Fire Egg trick, shrimp can add a splash of contrasting color, if needed, by curing or dying. Make sure to cut the shrimp into manageable sized chunks before adding any brine or die as this will ensure that the color completely penetrates the bait. Start by adding a chunk or shrimp or to the egg sac and vary a couple sacs with a higher ratio of shrimp and let the fish tell you what they prefer. There are times when an all cured shrimp sac will be more effective than combined with eggs.
3) Fire Power!
The ultimate egg additive, Fire Power, can transform normal eggs that fish may peck at to eggs that get gobbled! The 100% dried krill found in Fire Power provides a strong scent profile to fresh eggs, without actually curing the egg. In cases where cold fronts send water temps plummeting, fresh eggs can be just the ticket to getting sour fish to bite and the addition of the Fire Power will enhance the scent profile of your presentation. When adding Fire Power, make sure to spread the eggs out on paper towel and cover the eggs with the Fire Power. If you are using loose or scrapped eggs, wear latex gloves and roll the eggs around in the Fire Power to ensure maximum coverage; the sample applies to skein chunks, make sure to get the Fire Power in all the cracks and crevices for maximum adhesion.
Okay Egg Heads, it’s time to put these tips to good use! It’s been a long winter, time to bend the rod with the power of Pautzke and these three tricks to help you catch more steelhead!
Editor’s Note: Veteran outdoor writer Brian Kelly resides in NY. He’s written for nearly every major steelhead magazine in the country.