Field and Stream - - THE MIXED-BAG CHEAT SHEET - —J.C.

Egg pat­terns and nymphs are sta­ple flies for Great Lakes steelhead. While there is no hardand-fast rule as to when to fish nymphs vs. eggs, dif­fer­ent stages of the fall run can help you pin­point which will work bet­ter.

Put an Egg on It: In early fall, steelhead eat gobs of lake-run brown trout and salmon eggs daily. Eggs will re­main pro­duc­tive as long as there are spawn­ing salmon and brown trout in the river, or as long as fresh steelhead are still run­ning in. Even if there are few eggs left for munch­ing, fresh fish run­ning up from the lake are in­stinc­tu­ally look­ing for them, so a late run­ner will swipe some Es­taz or yarn.

Nymph Like a Nat­u­ral: Big black stone­flies or gir­dle bugs shine as fall turns to win­ter and there are no more fresh steelhead shoot­ing up­stream. Now that the fish are posted up on holes (many of which have been pounded with eggs), they can be­come more dis­cern­ing. The egg feast is over, which forces the steelhead to feed on other river for­age like nymphs. If you’re hes­i­tant to give up those trusty eggs, try a stone­fly with a pink, or­ange, or blue belly. It gives you the best of both worlds.

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