Surfing egg sacs
I have been reading a book about gamefish behavior. For me, it sheds new light on how to get more hookups while steelhead fishing. I won’t bore you with the details, but it is enough to say large gamefish are opportunists. They get big by avoiding predators, being competitive and eating often. If you present a “big meal” that requires minimal energy from the fish to acquire the food, they eat!
For instance, really big brown trout are nocturnal feeders to avoid danger, and any reasonably sized prey/food that comes near gets attacked.
It is not unusual to see more smallmouth bass follow a hooked fish you are playing. The fight excites their survival instinct to get their share of the prey.
When I dropped a black jig into crystal clear water down an ice hole on Elk Creek, I could see multiple steelhead attacking the jig. Once I got over my surprise, I finally hooked one and the fight was on.
This fall I figured when I found a pod of steelhead that feel safe in a comfortable environment all I needed to do is put food close by to trigger a bite driven by hunger or their competitive nature to get to the food first. It made sense to me.
Out of necessity – no better place to fish – I was fishing the lake surf that contained steelhead. You could see the fish as the swells rolled toward the shore. It was not easy, but anytime I could keep my egg sac in the strike zone close to the fish I got hooked up.
The average float/egg sac presentation was no match for the waves. Coming off the bottom with floater sacs was better, but the churning surf had too much trash on the bottom and I had to keep cleaning the sac.
I decided to use industrial strength tackle to float a bait in the surf. Why not, steelhead have no trouble eating 3 inches of metal that looks like a meal. An oversized jig and tasty egg sac should get plenty of attention. It worked for me, my setup held the strike zone longer and I got more hookups.
You must fish in the clean surf, with a setup that gets your bait near but not on the bottom, and with fresh egg sacs – if you can’t stand the smell, fish will not eat it.
I can’t explain the fact that this presentation worked best mid-day to 3 pm on bright days. ?? Once I found fish, and conditions remained unchanged, I could return to the same cast and catch fish immediately. When the steelhead were in the surf, they hit.
Adjust tackle size to suit surf conditions
Setup - large “egg float” on main line, swivel, 2’-6’ fluorocarbon leader, 1/8 - 3/8 ounce lead head jig – chartreuse or pink, egg sac to match jig color
Preferred conditions – stiff blow out of the north creating surf that is pushing water into tributaries and full-sun or bright sky
Timing [that I cannot explain] noon to 3 pm
This dated video gives you an idea of how well this presentation works.