What’s that got to do with the winter Steelhead fishery? Well, Pacific Salmon die after spawning; those carcasses litter the river and are a high fat treat for trout!
Decaying salmon flesh is a staple rainbows, steelhead & browns trout. It is pure protein and provides the vital nutrients and carbohydrates these fish need to fatten up. We have all seen decaying salmon flesh and, no doubt, it is disgustingly ugly but it is a tremendous opportunity for winter trout, a large nutrient food for a little effort.
The “Flesh Fly” is a go-to fly from the end of October thru the winter months. There are many Flesh Fly Patterns and can be tied in several styles; Bunnies, Zonkers and even as a Woolly Bugger! They can be tied in white, various pastels, off-white (beige & egg shell) and hot oranges and pinks.
My favorite Nov/December Flesh Fly: Tail here is a Zonker & I often tie it with a touch of pink or orange marabou. Fish dead drift on the bottom. Visualize how a piece of salmon flesh rolls and bumps along the bottom! This has been the most productive pattern for my guests over the last 3 weeks. Note: Have been having success with a white #4 Woolly Bugger with some orange marabou in the tail. Not only productive on the dead-drift (flesh pattern) but on the swing (minnow pattern).
Both these patterns are weighted. Dead-Drift directly below in indicator and ensure that the fly in “ON THE BOTTOM”. Be prepared for vicious hits.
Nothing in nature is monotone so add a contrasting color; pink, peach or orange, to improve chances. Remember, our Pacific Salmon do not have the vivid orange flesh of their West Coast counterparts. It is at best slightly orange tinged! In most of my flesh fly patterns white predominates.
Tie up a few. If you present a flesh fly correctly, dead-drifted will little of no drag, you will be rewarded!
Bugger like Flesh Fly
Hook: STD Mustad nymph, #4-10
Thread: White thread
Head: Glass crafting bead
Tail: White Rabbit Zonker
Body: “ “ “
Hackle: “ “ “
Zonked Flesh Fly
Hook: 3XLong Streamer
Weight: .030 Lead wraps
Thread: White 6/0
Body: Shell Pink Chenille, pampered with Flesh rabbit strip