Howdy strangers, been a little while! I didn’t stop fishing, I was just getting my butt kicked fishing new water the last few months. A good butt kicking/skunking every now and again is good for the fisherman. At least, that is what I tell myself, so I don’t just sell all my gear and quit. Those tough days just make the great days so much sweeter.
Winter finally showed up and the fish are behaving accordingly. We have been fishing primarily streamers and the fish are extremely slow on the eat. This will test your patience like it has for me. Slow down your retrieve and keep an eye on followers.
We have had some fish take the fly immediately but for the most part, fish are following and trailing the fly. When I see the fish, I have a hard time settling down and not farming (pulling the fly out of their mouth) the fish. When you see that slimer, just slow your retrieve down but keep that fly in motion.
I haven’t had much luck with streamers in those middle seams but the banks have been excellent. Before you walk through the bank, throw in. We have seen so many fish hanging tight to the bank in shallow water.
The flies, lets get to business! Olive and Black Sculpin patterns have been extremely consistent. I have been sticking to Zoo Cougars in both those colors and fish are striking them. Baitfish patterns like a Kill Whitey, have been working very good. Try baitfish patterns in White/Grey, Yellow/Olive, White/Olive.
We have been throwing articulated as well and fish looking for a big winter meal, have been hunting them too. Galloups Boogie Man, Sex Dungeon in Black and Olive have been great patterns right now.
When I haven’t had luck with those colors I have had luck with natural and tan. The biggest thing right now is just fish those flies slower. Fish are hunting for those big flies but just need a little more time putting that bib on and stuffing that bug down the gullet!
Nymphing is probably the most productive method this time of year. Those middle seams are perfect holding water for fish to enjoy the all you can eat buffet of food coming down river. They can sit pretty, not work too hard, and feast on all that food.
Our go to set up (San Juan Worm with a Hares Ear/Pheasant tail dropper) has been working very well. If those aren’t working, then Midge nymphs is next in rotation. Ruby, Root Beer, Disco Midges are all great options. Try those in sizes 16-18, or if you want to go even smaller, that is totally fine too. An egg pattern is another great top fly option and fish love eating the next generation. Cannibals!
Since it is winter, the dry fly activity is not like it was in the Spring, Summer and fall. BUT, that doesn’t mean put them away till Spring. Have them on you at all times because you never know when you might wade upon a great Midge hatch. It is prime time for Winter Midgin so have those Griffiths Gnats, and Goober Midges at the ready!
Keep your eyes out for fish rising, that indicator or line dropping and those slimers chasing the big bugs! I hope this next storm brings the mountains plenty of snow. Because my favorite time of year is runoff and the more snow, the better! Enjoy the weekend coming up and be safe on the roads if you are traveling.