By: Andy Bliss

In November in the Great Lakes there’s one common denominator when it comes to tributary fishing; and that’s millions of salmon eggs are available for trout to gorge on. This is something that occurs in every corner of the region. Salmon spawn and trout migrate into creeks and rivers to play Hungry Hungry Hippo behind the spawning salmon that are dropping eggs. In fact, some of the trout we catch look like they swallowed a tennis ball due to the amount of salmon eggs they’ve eaten.

These trout live for the fall. For those anglers that target them this is the most wonderful time of the year. From late October through November (and into December in some areas) trout and steelhead are in heavy feed mode. They are foraging to beef up on the salmon eggs free flowing through the system.

There’s many techniques used to catch these fish. Being that they’ve keyed in on real salmon eggs, the single egg pattern has been our most effective tool. Over the years guys would use egg patterns, beads and single salmon eggs. However, the new Pautzke Fire Balls changed the way we target these brown trout, rainbows and steelhead. It’s brought the best of both worlds. What I mean by this is a Fire Ball is an artificial egg that looks, tastes and smells like a real salmon egg. It’s allowed us to match the hatch better than we ever have before.

A Fire Ball is versatile. It can be fished solely on a single egg hook, used in conjunction with a standard bead or run in place of a bead (pegging it). Fire Balls are available in many colors. Meanwhile, this time of year I prefer the natural colors because they match the hatch. However, contrary to popular believe trout are attracted to other colors, too. For example, chartreuse is always a great color for trout. I use the Chartreuse Anise Fire Balls a lot this time of year. The chartreuse works in clear and dirty water. It’s a great all around bait.

Pink can be a valuable color, too. In systems where anglers use lots of skein I employ the Pink Shrimp Fire Ball. Consider this: trout in rivers/creeks become accustomed to seeing skein drifting downstream under bobbers and as it floats pieces of the pink skein fall off and are eaten by the trout. I feel the trout start to believe that pink eggs are natural because they keep seeing them tumble downriver during the fall. This is why I use Pink Shrimp Fire Balls where skein is being used.

Natural colors like Brown Trout, Gold Garlic, Gold Shrimp and Orange Shrimp Fire Balls work well in all tributaries where salmon spawn in the fall, especially in clear water. Everybody knows how to fish a single egg on a standard hook, and Fire Balls can be used that way. We don’t need to talk about that.

Meanwhile, I like to fish a Fire Ball with a bead because it allows me to have more bait in the water to catch their attention. Plus, at times I can run different colors to see what the trout are eating that day. When I run a Fire Ball with a bead I’ll put in on the hook and run the bead two inches above the hook.

I’v heard of many anglers tying Fire Balls in a sack, but I haven’t done so yet. My last option is pegging it on the line and running it like a bead. In this scenario I put a bobber stop on the line and slide the Fire Ball over the bobber stop to keep it in place. I do this because it’s a slightly stealthier presentation – and more importantly – it works.

By the way, you’ll catch salmon, too.

Editor’s Note: Andy Bliss operates Chasin Tail Adventures. For more info on his guided Great Lakes trout, salmon and steelhead trips please visit