January 06, 2021
By Matt Straw
Few steelhead guides hit the ice without spawn, which is fish eggs from a steelhead, brown trout or salmon.
Sometimes it can be purchased, but the commercial product can be treated with who knows what. The best method is to take spawn from a harvested female in waters where natural reproduction does not occur.
The best way to present spawn is to tie it up in nylon netting from Atlas, Lee's or Redwing Tackle.
A number of quality methods exist for preserving spawn. Some anglers use sugar, salt or a combination of the two. Others use commercial products like Pautzke Fire Cure or borax.
After treating, spawn is tied in bags and frozen. I tie raw spawn into bags, place them in jars, cover with mineral oil and freeze. Mineral oil is inert and has no scent, but it takes on scent that is slowly released in the water to create a trail. It doesn't freeze hard like water, but gels.
Spawn bags preserved this way last for years. Sometimes steelhead prefer salmon spawn, and sometimes they prefer steelhead or brown trout eggs over all others. It’s best to have at least two versions along whenever possible.