Fishing egg sacs . . . .
Steelhead trout love to eat fish eggs - salmon eggs, brown trout eggs and even their own eggs. This fish could not resist a cluster of eggs like the ones in this picture, but was lucky to get CPR - Catch, Photograph and Release!
Steelhead anglers plan for success by using fish eggs for bait. The only problem they face is how to keep fragile pea-sized bait on their hook. Turning fish eggs into fish bait is really easier than one would think. To begin with, you need fresh, loose fish eggs or immature, skein bound eggs that you need to scrape free. Fresh is best - tie some sacs and fish. Forced to wait - treat the eggs you have to keep them from spoiling.
Usually, I would take time here to suggest treatment methods, but there are so many great options why tell you what you may already know. Instead I will say this - keep things simple. Commercial brine or a dry mix of borax applied to the eggs is all you need. Rinse the finished eggs, use, keep or freeze for later.
Now that you have treated eggs, you are ready to tie some eggs sacs. I strongly recommend that you take control of the bait that you use. Do not rely on another to prepare the bait on which your success hinges. Sure it is a tedious, task that demands hours of your time, but in the end, you will catch more fish. If I have talked you into making sacs, this picture shows you what equipment you will need - click here to watch the how to video.
If that looks like too much work and bother for what you have in mind, most bait shops along Lake Erie tributaries sell egg sacs.
Fishing egg sacs is easy. Catching steelhead using egg sacs requires using variations of a presentation technique that is easy to master. Mastering the technique takes time, determination and practice. Keys to success include good bait, modifying your presentation to take advantage of stream conditions, putting your bait where the active fish are located, and finally, the skill to recognize "the bite".
Assuming you have good egg sacs, your challenge is to move that bait near active fish. By active, I mean those willing to eat your egg sac or react to it. More times than not, most steelhead are holding within 12 - 18" of the stream bottom and in current that delivers a meal. Put good bait there and you have taken the first step to a successful fishing trip.
A "pinner's" presentation uses current, a float, and enough split shot to take their egg sac past active fish. The controlled float keeps the bait moving and riding the scent trail that precedes the offering downstream. Unfortunately that presentation requires a long drift through good holding water. As we all know, Erie is the land of short drifts and neighbors with shorter tempers.
Noodle rod fishing with sacs is nothing more than "short drift pinning" - sometimes with a float and sometimes not - sometimes a 10' drift and sometimes 10-yards. A controlled drift on current carries your egg sac past active fish.
If you use a float, you must sink the bait to the proper level, but you have the advantage of remaining in the strike zone for a longer drift. If you remove the float and "bottom bump", you must compensate for the fact that your drift will arc back to shore as the current impacts the line.
Rigging always includes a section of fluorocarbon leader and a size 12 or 14 hook. A sensitive float and split shot for the fishing the "top". A barrel slip sinker, swivel, leader, and hook for the bottom. Some anglers use large split shot when fishing on the bottom.
When presenting of the rigged, fresh egg sac, either on the surface or the bottom, it produces a strike when you keep the bait moving. That means, steady drift, drop and drag, drop and hop, speed crank and stop, or steady drag . . . . Plus any variation of those actions that work. Toss and wait is used only when you are in a bag-chair and you need a nap.
Depending on how you have rigged your egg sac, the bite can be a hard pull, dunk, twitch, tick, line jump, line going limp, pickup - drop - tick, line moving against the current, . . . . I may have missed a few, but you get the idea. Anything out of the ordinary gets a hookset from successful sac anglers.
Now you are armed with common sense, egg sac knowledge. You are ready to go so "get r done"!