By Scott Feist | 03/06/2013
I’m a salmon guide, not a steelhead guide, but something I learned in a day of steelhead fishing on the Oregon Coast last week is that good bait is crucial, particularly when the system is low and clear. As much pressure as the Chetco has seen this winter, drifting well-cured bait was imperative to our success. It can’t be too soft or too hard because of the gravel bottom. Our guide was able to control the density and composition of our bait, which led to our success on a day when the river wasn’t fishing well.
I don’t get to steelhead fish often. My days are driven by summer and fall salmon on the Sacramento River, winter duck hunting in the Upper Sacramento Valley and spring striper fishing back on the Sac. However, on a recent trip to pick up my new Willie in Central Point, Oregon, I decided to swing down to the Oregon Coast to steelhead fish.
Pautzke pro Paul LeFebvre hooked my buddy Aaron Zanocco and I up with Oregon guide Rye Phillips to fish the beautiful Chetco River for steelhead. We had a blast! I was curious to see what kind of bait we’d be using. As many eggs as I cure for fall salmon I knew Phillips would have a different recipe when targeting steelhead. While having tinkered with a variety of cures Phillips (who isn’t connected with Pautzke in any way) cures most of his eggs in Natural BorX O Fire.
“Living on a river for months guiding does not leave me lots of extra time to mess with complicated cures,” Phillips told me.
I quickly learned that even when steelhead fishing on the coast quality bait makes the difference. Fortunately, I was drifting down the river with a guy who had quality bait.
The Borx O’ Fire is as simple to use as putting on your socks in the morning. You put your eggs in a Ziploc, pour BorX O Fire into the bag (enough to cover the eggs) shake it around and then place them in the refrigerator. They’ll be ready to fish in the morning.
Rye uses different colors of BorX O Fire throughout the year, but says the fish have liked the natural color as of late. Rye uses an egg loop with a piece of orange yarn to attach his cured eggs on a three-foot leader. Rye says color and size of bait is the key ingredient to a successful day on the Chetco. The bait we drifted was dime sized.
The fishing was not wide open, but Aaron and I hooked and landed a steelhead, which was awesome. While we missed a few other bites and ended up with three steelhead, the largest roughly 10 pounds. What a great trip on a beautiful river fishing Pautzke cured eggs. With the great bait it almost felt like I was home.