Bad Dream (Harsh Reality)

Trinity River fog

he Trinity River above Steelbridge represents some of the finest unspoiled habitats for “native” salmon-steelhead-Mike Callan enjoying the moment

It’s been awhile since my last blog and a big thanks to those for reminding me. I haven’t forgotten just a bit hung up with a strange rash of challenges that hit too close to home and has taken time to absorb. Since most of you are friends of the T.R. thought I’d give you a little taste of what is happening that will help to remind you, no matter where you live, there is no perfect world.

Fish food

Crowded Houses (Caddis-Brachycentrus) a single sample of the aquatic insect fertility levels in Limekiln Gulch T.R.

Without a doubt one of the most scenic and popular Trinity River drift trips for anglers, rafters, kayakers, and outdoor wildlife enthusiasts is Bucktail down to Steelbridge; upper reach of the T.R. below Lewiston. Remote, limited access, lush dense forests, unsurpassed scenery and fish and wildlife abound; offering a true unspoiled wilderness experience. These canyon waters, much composed of bedrock, support a complexity of varied water compositions (riffles, pools, glides, pocket waters, tailouts, and natural side channels) that serve as prime salmon-steelhead holding, staging, spawning and juvenile rearing habitats. Unique, these waters are also unusually rich and fertile, populating vast diversities and abundant micro envirtabreas and plant life; ultimately representing some of the most productive “native” salmon-steelhead habitats in the entire upper reach of the Trinity River.

Trinity River

Bill-A-Bong—highly productive steelhead pocket waters/flat

River run

Secluded Run—always maintained a big fish reputation

River glass

Scenic waters, Non Descript, was always good to dry fly anglers  

Bing Crosby

the inviting Bing Crosby Run above the legendary fly waters—VonGelderns

Not according to the Trinity River Restoration Program. Last month the TRRP posted the Limekiln Gulch Channel Rehabilitation Project draft slated for 2015. TRRP has budgeted millions to finance the project and is currently moving forward to mechanically reconstruct these pristine waters according to “their” scientific guesswork and “tech- team” project designs, computer models and satellite imaging (aka the“Grand Experiment”). Legendary salmon-steelhead waters, VonGelderns, Bill-a-Bong, Boneyard, Non-Descript, Secluded and Colt 45 are located in the bull’s-eye of the project and sadly, will be toast; memories of the past. For information about the Limekiln Gulch Project contact ( which also reveals why the TRRP wears their pants on backwards.

Too much too soon, there is a Brown Trout electroshocking study that is happening on the Trinity River. Objective of the study is somewhat vague and in question. Some anglers and guides have discovered dead fish (steelhead, brown trout and even suckers) not to mention experienced slow fishing when trying to target waters behind the electroshocking crew. The study is suspect and time will tell. Recently, the Hoopa tribe has requested to construct a fish weir this fall in the lower T.R. River and harvest adult hatchery Coho salmon. Many question why raise hatchery Coho and allow a commercial harvest that excludes inland and off shore sport fisherman and would another weir/selective harvest impact other anadromous fish. Factor in a brutal drought and a controversial 2015 “dry” T.R. water allocation, flows peaking over 8,500 cfs.(to justify TRRP’s 1700 yards of “gravel injections”) and less than a 49% Trinity lake capacity and maybe some of you can cut me some slack for becoming a bit more cantankerous and absent.

Hate to sound like a a Captain Bringdown but sometimes you just have to vent; especially when the T.R. and its fisheries face some serious challenges you should be well aware of. Life isn’t always glowing fishing reports and I strongly believe delivering it straight forward; telling it like it is or isn’t. The T.R. certainly doesn’t deserve this and there are times I believe we don’t deserve the Trinity River. So, without getting into it any further, I feel pretty damn good about biting my tongue, at least for now, and moving forward; sadly, chalking it up as a sign of the times. Although, having the great fortune of enjoying a 47 yr. T.R. relationship, I ponder how much more can this magnificent river endure.

Green Drake

Green Drake-NEVER leave home without them

There is a bright spot in this post (check out March-April photo gallery) and that is the high level of stoke many of us shared the past few months, hatch matching, chasing heads and experiencing solid dry fly opportunities. Drought conditions, unseasonably warm weather and low flows, activated full on startups and cycles of (Callibaetis, Baetis, PMD’s, Green Drakes, Stones, Caddis, Crain flies, and even Aquatic Wasp) triggering top shelf dry fly sessions; you name it and sooner or later it popped and fish crunched. Most rewarding and totally unexpected was a Green Drake (Grandis #8- Da big one) “spinner fall,” that activated bizarre dry fly action (toilet bowel-flush surface takes) that sent Russ Giuntini, my brother Glenn, Kit and I all but spell bound. A late rack of jumbo half-pounders dominated activity highlighted with occasional native adults challenging talents and 4X tippits; truly an unexpected late season steelhead crescendo.

Currently, The T.R.“Fly Only” waters reopened (April 1) with solid fishing for most everyone. However, current high flows are scheduled through JUNE 15 then drop to a fishable 900cfs.; plan, prepare and pounce (both summer chinook and steelhead should be available) 2015 T.R. flow schedule contact: ( Trinity Lake smallmouth and largemouth bass are on a solid pre and post spawn grab. All tributary streams, upper TR, Coffee Creek, East Fork, Stuarts Fork, are OPEN and in prime mid-summer levels; get’em early while flows are favorable. Grass Valley Lake is producing and well worth the hike for those seeking solitude and quality float tubing for both rainbows and landlocked steelies. Lewiston Lake is still turbid as a result of flow releases and sediment purge from Trinity Lake. Aquatic wasps are already on the serving table. Increased flows will greatly improve clarity and fishery. Check’em out and See ya on the Water!

Brown Trout

The objective of a current TR Brown trout electro shocking study is suspect– time will tell