Regardless of the watershed you’re on, drifting eggs is very hard to beat for winter-run fish. But eggs aren’t without their inherent problems: Roe is a delicate bait and the constant casting and drifting in fast current and bouncing off rocks means your offering takes a beating. Depending on your cure and the water you’re fishing, a cluster of roe may last only one to five casts
What that means is you’re going to spend a lot of time re-baiting. And when you consider the fact that steelhead are often referred to as the “fish of a thousand casts,” time spent out of the water is time wasted. So, what’s the answer?
Having your bait tied in a sac not only keeps you in the water longer by reducing the number of re-baits you have to do but it also extends the life of your eggs. A spawn sac routinely lasts 10 or more casts – which is a huge improvement. Additionally, you can flub your cast (forget to flip the bail, etc.) and not have your bait all fly off.
The downside to spawn bags is it takes some prep time the night before to get a bunch tied up and ready for action. I typically spend close to an hour an evening tying up bags for the next day’s fishing but I still end up saving time in the long run by not having to put fresh bait on every cast or two – which is really a plus when I have three or four clients on the boat.
How to make Spawn Bags
All you need to make up a bunch of spawn balls is some netting – available in pre-cut squares or rolls at most tackle shops. To tie the bags up, buy a roll of Magic Thread and then make sure you have a sharp pair of scissors handy.
Now, place a thumb-nail sized cluster of eggs in the center of a small square of netting and then pull the netting tight and twist it a couple times in your hand.
Before you tie your bags, you can add other stuff to them – like shrimp or any other secret “bite enhancer” you may like to use. Also, you can place some small puffballs in there to add buoyancy.
Wrap the top with 4 to 6 turns of Magic Thread (it sticks to itself and doesn’t require a knot) and then trim everything nice and tight so all you end up with is a tight little bag of eggs. Just don’t go so tight that you squish the eggs!
You can make bags by hand or try the Spawnee Bait Tying Machine from Atlas Mike’s (available for about $20 at www.atlasmikes.com).
As far as storage goes, I like to put my baits into Mason Jars or Tupperware containers and fill them to the brim with Brite & Tight (also available from Atlas Mikes), a bottle-based cure that preserves, scents and dyes your eggs. It’s super easy – just drop your baits in the solution, seal your containers and put ‘em in the fridge until you are ready to fish.
Try spawn sacs out this winter – you’ll instantly love how much more time you spend fishing!