Matching the color of egg sacs to the water conditions is a vital part of float fishing for steelhead here in the Great Lakes.
The old adage of bright colors in dirty water and pale colors for clear water holds true year after year. But with the amount of egg cures and dies currently available, adding egg color to the mix can provide some unique color variations that fish have never seen but react quite favorably to under right conditions.
Natural colored eggs have been a mainstay for egg junkies across the region since the early days of this fishery. But when the pressure is on and the fish have been seeing or sniffing the same presentation over and over again, a simple change in color can make all the difference in the world. Here are few tricks that have turned tough days into banner days, all thanks to a little forward thinking.
Make Your Eggs Stand Out
The Big Manistee River in Michigan has long been a destination for Great Lakes steelhead fanatics since the ‘60s. This wide watershed has miles of water well suited for float fishing egg sacs and gets a great deal of fishing pressure each season. To stay one step ahead of the crowds, Captain Mark Chmura of Pier Pressure Charters often tinkers with his egg cures to gain an advantage.
“I’ve been working with the folks at Pautzke’s for a few years and rely heavily on their Borx O Fire cure for the majority of my egg fishing. I started mixing colors the last few seasons and came up with a formula that works wonders,” says Mark with a sly grin. “I began mixing equal parts of the orange and pink Borx O Fire and the resulting egg had a color that really stood out, it looked totally unique from anything I’d ever seen.”
When this egg color is used in combination with pink or orange spawn netting, the resulting egg sacs draw attention like no other. “I’ve had a great deal of success with this cure in stained or off color water conditions,” admits Mark. “You need to show the fish something bright in these conditions but isn’t too obnoxious when the water is a bit murky.”
Upon receiving this intelligence from Mark, I too found this cure to work equally as well on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario tribs. Many of these watersheds will have a heavy stained color after a freshet or snow melt and Mark’s cure did the trick on many occasions in less than favorable conditions last season.
Pink, Pink and more Pink
Steelhead have an affinity for anything pink, so it’s no coincidence that pink spawn sacs are the color of choice for most anglers. But curing the eggs pink can give you a huge advantage, especially on pressured watersheds.
“I usually tie 75% of my sacs in pink, but so do most of the other guides on the river!” exclaims Captain Mark. “So I cured a bunch of coho eggs in the Pink Borx O Fire last winter and it gave my clients a huge boost to their success; we were hooking two to three times as many fish as the rest of the guide boats!”
Since coho eggs tend to be more rose colored than chinook or steelhead eggs, they get to be a nice, vibrant pink color after the curing process. “Coho eggs really stand out after sitting in that pink cure,” says Mark. “In fact, I began to let the eggs sit longer in the cure than normal so they would take in as much of that pink color as possible.”
The interesting result from these eggs is their effectiveness in a variety of water conditions. Not only do they work well in stained water, but have proven to be just as deadly in clear water as well. Just be sure to use neutral or pale colored eggs sac netting instead of the usual hot pink; the combination or pink eggs in white or purple sac netting can be a life saver on a clear stream with stubborn fish.
Fire Dot Sacs
Glo Bugs have been around seemingly forever and one of the tricks of the yarn trade was to add a bright colored “dot” to middle of the yarn fly to give it added color and depth. The same can be done with an egg sac, as Lake Erie trib guide Brandon Smith of Chrome Run Guides found out.
“I had cured a bunch of chinook skeins in red Fire Cure for the Niagara River and I wanted to use up the left over eggs so I began adding one or two of these red eggs to my eggs sacs when I tied them up for guide trips,” explained Brandon. “The results were impressive as we were limiting out in no time at all with the fire dot sacs. What was amazing to me is how the fish preferred the fire dot sacs over sacs that were tied with the same colored netting—the red egg did the trick!”
The key is positioning the red eggs so it stands out in the sac and not buried amongst the other eggs. “Make sure to drop the red egg in first and then add the other eggs on top so when you pull up the corners to tie off the bag, the red egg facing out,” says Brandon. “This detail makes a huge difference.”
There seems to be endless variations when it comes to eggs sacs.
Whether it’s the use of salmon eggs, trout eggs or netting color and fabric style, there are a multitude of combinations to throw at a wary steelhead. The use of properly cured eggs in the right conditions is what separates the average angler from the professionals.
Be sure to add these recipes to your egg arsenal this season and you will elevate your catch totals!
- written by Brian Kelly
Pier Pressure Charters, Captain Mark Chmura 231-864-4051
Chrome Run Guide, Captain Brandon Smith 814-823-3989 firstname.lastname@example.org