Why Natural Trout Eggs Are Perfect For Great Lakes Steelhead

By: James Swearingen

We are in the heart of spawn sac season in the Great Lakes and for the first time in more than 20 years I’m using something different in my sacs. Historically, I’ve had to fish with salmon eggs and brown trout eggs that I harvested in the fall in New York. Meanwhile, now that I got my hands on Pautzke’s new Trout Eggs I don’t have to kill fish anymore, just to get eggs. These Trout Eggs are becoming my new favorite way to fish for steelhead and trout, and really they are no different than the eggs I was getting by harvesting.

I prefer the Natural Trout Eggs to the Premium. The Natural eggs don’t have the glamorous look that the Premium does, but they fish and smell better, and they milk better than the Premium. My favorite thing I like about the Natural eggs is they are more yellow than orange. And, when I used to harvest eggs from brown trout in New York they were more yellow than orange. When I fish the Great Lakes for trout and steelhead it’s usually low and clear, which is why I prefer the natural look.

Before I get into how I tie my sacs I’d like to squash a rumor. I’ve seen or heard numerous comments online that these eggs look terrible and there’s no way they are going to fish well, but I’ve found they fish great through trial and error. Many of the complaints seem to stem from white shells and dead eggs in the jar.

To me, what that tells me is that if you put that dead egg in the netting when you are tying sacs it basically serves as a flavor pouch. The broken shell that many anglers are complaining about is going to ooze out scent every time that egg sack is twitched or moved. Naturally in the system (now that we are in January) most of the eggs that are remaining are dead eggs that are going to be white or an opaque color anyway, (just like the dead ones in the jar) so putting an egg like that out there wouldn’t matter.

I’m not even curing these Trout Eggs. I’m fishing them right out of the jar. If you want to you could definitely sprinkle Natural BorX O Fire on them. If you do they’ll juice even more. I’d only do that in higher or muddier water. Otherwise, it’s not necessary.

Tying these has never been simpler. Meanwhile, I now employ a baby spoon because it’s easier to work with these small eggs. You can scoop eggs with it, it’s less messy and gives you the perfect amount for a Great Lakes sac.

The Sacs

Step 1: Fill the Squares

Lay 3×3 Atlas Mike’s spawn netting down on a flat surface (I only use the 4×4 for king eggs) and then fill each square up with scoop of eggs. The 3-inch Atlas squares are ideal for these Trout Eggs. During steelhead season when our waters are mostly low and clear I’ll stick with White and Peach Atlas Mike’s netting but pink always works, too. While the color is often overlooked, I prefer Blue Atlas netting for pressured fish. On the other hand, I only use red netting for kings. I’ve never had good luck on it for steelhead.

Step 2: The Twist

I don’t use a machine to tie sacs. I tie all them by hand. Once your eggs are in the center of the netting grab all four corners and start twisting and forming a round ball as seen below.

Step 3: Use Magic Thread

Once the sac the right size and you don’t have any more netting sagging from the eggs I pinch it right where I want my knot to be. Then I wrap it with Red or Orange Magic Thread. I use red and orange during steelhead season because it almost acts like blood on the egg sack when it gets wet. I’ll do between 10-12 wraps, synch it tight and cut the thread and the excess netting off as close to the knot as possible without destroying the egg sack. If you cut it too close the egg sack will blow up under pressure or while casting.

Hook Selection

In low and clear conditions I use a size 14 or 16 Daiichi 1150s. When it’s higher water I use a size 10 or 12 Raven Specialist hook.



I always put the eggs in the fridge after this. It keeps them fresh.


Editor’s Note: James Swearingen is the founder of Steel City Anglers. For more info on their adventures please visit https://www.facebook.com/SteelCityAngler412.