Fish Sniffer Digital Edition Issue 3703 Jan 18-Feb 2 2018 - Page 29

VOL.37 • ISS. 02 WHAT’S HOT extent. I still love catching them, but I can’t get very excited about beating up on a bunch of snaky down-runners during March. In January, you probably won’t see a fish that isn’t chrome and in its prime, and that’s what excites me. Furthermore, biologists often note that the largest males of any anad- romous salmonid population are the first fish to move up the river. These fish don’t tend to spend a lot of time lingering around either. They tend to make a bee-line for the spawning grounds awaiting female company. As is the case with most species on the planet, the male steelhead is far more eager to breed than the female. Another factor to keep in mind is that on almost any river in the state of California, you will not be allowed to fish anywhere near the spawning grounds. Thus, your one and only shot at that 20 pound chrome buck is while he is quickly making his way up the river. Once he gets above Bridge X or Creek Y, he’s off limits. Yet another reason why January is so great for steelhead fishing is the bulk of Cal- ifornia’s hatchery fish will be making their way towards the fish ladder in this month. If you’re like me, you probably like whacking a hatchery steelhead or two, and the best eating ones are definitely the ones freshest out of the ocean. In fact, winter steelhead deteriorate very rapidly, and they only are prime for eating for a week or perhaps two after leaving the salt. Speaking of hatchery steelhead, which reminds me of another point that needs mentioning. If I was looking for a hatchery steelhead to put on the table, this is what the hile minnow plugs are an obvious choice for fast trolling, many of us overlook a small array of spoons, both new and old that can make things happen on a fast troll. The most famous and most readily available of these spoons is the venerable Speedy Shiner. Of course, the name of this spoon alone is enough to tip you off that this is a high-speed offering. The “Speedy Shiner” style of lure originated in Maine in the 1930’s”, says Peter Ridd of Thomas Lures, makers of the Speedy Shiner. “Thomas began producing its version in the 1960’s. Back in those days a lot of companies were turning out spinning gear. It was customary then to offer a line of lures to go with your gear. The Speedy Shiner style lure was knocked off by a lot of different companies and there have been a lot of slightly different configurations of the spoon we market today.” These days Speedy Shiners are offered in three different sizes and a wide array of colors. Overall, I’d say that color is less important when trolling quickly in the 2.5 to 4 mph range then when moving slowly at traditional trout speeds of 2.0 mph or less. If water clarity is anywhere near decent, I like to go with natural colored lures. That means chromes paired with hues of blue or purple for spoons. If the water clarity is poor, super bright stuff like florescent orange can give you an edge. When the light level is low either early or late or when the sky is overcast, black can be an absolutely deadly color that few anglers ever think to try. 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