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        Guided Fly and Spey Fishing Trips for Steelhead and Brown Trout with    

Fish Lake Run Outfitters  



Bruiser Winter Fish

Posted on December 23, 2021 at 10:40 AM

Check out the colors on this solid buck

So we are definitely in the peak of late-fall-early-winter fishing. There are good numbers of fish in most drainages throughout the region, with the medium and larger sized tributaries providing some fantasting swing fishing. The other really nice thing is the amount of fish in the 28-30" class. This time of year we see some bruiser bucks, and the last two-three weeks have not disappointed. Whereas in the spring, our largest fish tend to be hen fish, large, mulit-year class male fish arrive sooner to maximize their spawning potential, with December being the prime month. This year, these big male fish seem to be right on schedule, and the good news is these fish should be around our in our rivers through March though they do lose physical condition with prolonged residency in the rivers.

Onto the fishing. This fish above took when the air temp was 30 degrees and the water temp only a few degrees warmer. After working a good run a few times resulted in a couple pulls but nothing that stuck, I pushed up to a run that has been fairly good to me in the past, but has not produced for me this year. Thinking that the fish would be concentrated way down in the slow-water tailout, a decent winter spot, I jumped in low thinking that I'd just cover that spot then call it. Way down in the tailout I hooked and landed a smaller fish.

Amped up from success, I booked it to the top to start the run properly. The pool is set up with a hard inside seam at the head that pushes out to mid-river by the gut. My first cast with only a little more than the sink tip out the rod tip went to the bottom and started dredging the seam. After a few seconds there was just weight there. When I lifted, it quickly became apparent that it was a fish. It ran out to the middle, swirled, then shook the hook like an October fish since I never got a good set on it.

 As I worked my way down, just above the gut, with about the full distance of my head out, I felt a light pluck but nothing else. Waiting for a second pull, a big, colored buck fish somersaulted out of the water, my black and chartreuse leech clearly visible in it's mouth. Due to the hard seam, I never felt the weight of the fish, or even the pull as the fish jumped clean out of the water. As it jumped, it also tossed my fly. But, I started thinking that that fish might not have been put down because I didn't really pull on it, and it was clearly very aggressive in the manner it took and immediately leaped.

I took one big step back up and started again. On the third cast, slightly lower from where it took the first time, I got a good pull and put the wood to it. The fish swirled again and fought me down to the tailout where I was able to slide him into the shallows. I am one hundred percent confident that this was the same fish that took only a few cast prior and jumped as it shook the hook- same size, same colored appearance, same attitude. Though over the years, we have certaintly captured the same fish over a series of outings, and we somewhat frequently get "comeback" fish, where they grab but don't get hooked then come back and grab again a cast or two later, I cannot ever recall having hooked a fish, losing it, then hooking it again and landing it only a few casts later. 

Just goes to show that no matter how long you play game, there are still things that can surprise you.

Tight Lines and Happy Holidays,

 -  D  

Categories: Spey fishing, Steelhead, Fishing reports