Friday, January 8, 2016


It's 'January Pink ' time of year. Some of the most gorgeous crimson buck males are settling into their winter condo primary lies and can become ultra selective /reflective . The time you can catch them 'in the mood' and getting a little ornery is usually at last light- dusk, when the big boys come out to hunt, 'piss on their dominant territorial lies or just shoulder up their manliness at the bar. Egg patterns/nymphs?...January pink/pink hot spots- Swinging flies: black/hot pink-red/copper/black metallic- .Now is the time to catch a trophy of your lifetime in the pre-spawn phase.

* Traditional primary lies- year after year producers,  usually harbor the largest fish in the river system due to their ideal habitat: river bed contour/inside/outside bend seams, bottom structure, depth, flow and nearness to wooded structure and drop -offs.
*Concealment - these Brutus fish are usually lovers of the ultimate abyss and shy the shallows and sun like other trout and smaller steelhead.
* Attack Speeds: very slow , very cautious- fish your patterns for long periods of time, sometimes to the point of monotony - than switch patterns, but always return with your original pattern thought.  In Swinging expect multi- nose bumps or a 'slam/tug from hell'- two totally opposite responses.
*Never Trust a snag!- getting down with sink-tips and weighted rigs often yield snags in the dead of winter. Focus by the fish is often on the bottom in cold conditions and a rig suddenly snagged and being free often solicits a brutal 'pounce and capture' snag type strike! If I had a Benjamin for every snag- both swinging and nymphing that turned into a big buck thrashing its head with your fly, I would be a millionaire. Plus lower metabolisms by the larger fish take a while for the blood to get flowing and a dog fight- but it will eventually happen.
* 'Push the bully around"- these fish are gregarious bullies and only respond to a punch in the face!. Work the pool /run top to bottom- than repeat. The more you shove them around, the more you will bring out a defensive attack to your fly- or curiosity. Start at the top of a pool and slowly push them down to the tail-out-a cornered buck only has one reaction-STRIKE!
* Dusk and sun on the pool- except for extreme cold days where sun warms things up, target your big buck hunting when sun isn't out on the pool.
* Getting skunked in a pool- That is a good thing!- means there is probably one giant buck there that doesn't allow the runts to get in and mess around. Eventually you will piss off the big buck by repeated forays into his king's lair- might be tomorrow or next week, but I guarantee you he is waiting, patient, obstinate and has nothing to do but wait for the spawn and  hate your flies/bait/h/ware intrusions- 'they didn't get massive by being stupid". Even if he has been hooked, his aggressive dominant nature will eventually take over.
* Two Fly tandems where legal- not always a good thing!- Sorry Pat Dorsey!( love your new article in Fly Fisherman magazine btw bro!), BUT!...the habituation response of bigger more selective steelhead have seen the egg/nymph dropper 'over and over again'-also two fly rigs dont behave well in natural drift scenarios " hopper dropper' rigs on streamers/intruders sometimes yield the opposite response of more curiosity
 Happy hunting!!!