Better Late Than Never (Winter Runs Arriving)

Trinity Steelhead
Mary-Anita and Trinity Steel.

We all wanted it. We desperately needed it. And Whoa-Yeah—we got it. Just what the Doc ordered and needed to get the river’s juices flowing and fish moving. A recent series of long overdue powerful frontal systems belted our neck of the woods with heavy snowfall and rains that brought relief from a dominating bitterly cold and dry weather pattern. The perfect storm, solid snow pack in the mountains and heavy rains raised water temps. and flushed the entire system, lower river flows jacked over 11,000cfs.; finally a rotation of what appears to be the lead edge of our native winter runs are filtering up out of the canyons.

Up until the big chill anglers were catching an abnormal number of dark, late summer- fall hatchery fish (for number crunchers, two weeks ago the hatchery has already processed more steelhead than all of last year—feel better or worse?). To many a fish is a fish. However this year traditional winter runs are late, very late with many questioning what’s up. As I have always preached fish don’t go by the calendar. It’s all about current conditions. Keep in mind this has been one of the driest winters on record. In other words no water no fish. Secondary rivers (North-South-New Rivers) have been at all-time lows and tributaries have been all but nonexistent. Compounding the low flow formula, the lower Klamath, at Requa, denied access to all fish, for two(2), 8-12 day time periods (1/2 month), as Klamath-Trinity flows were backed up and simply too low to purge sandbars and flow into the Pacific. Factor the length of the Trinity system at 100 plus miles, Lewiston down to Weitchpec, and migration travel time and you might begin to understand why winter runs in the upper system are 3-4 weeks late. Good things happen to those who wait. If winter returns are even remotely close to an average run, with the blessing of some favorable conditions, Trinity anglers should experience a solid late season.

Kit chalking up another.

All sounds too good to be true, well it is. Many others have kept their eye on the Trinity and weather patterns, ready to make their move. In other words the past few day’s anglers have faced some challenging crowded conditions. But hey, up until a few days ago the Trinity was the only fishable waters available, an annual scenario that seems to haunt anglers when winter storms bash north coastal rivers, fortunately are short lived. Despite social line ups and some raw feedback of a few anglers/boaters breaching stream ethics, most everyone is having fun and scoring. Try to remember we are all out there for the same stoke and passion; truth be known most steelheaders are probably more alike than not alike. Keep the peace, respect fellow anglers. As of this post fishing pressure has already thinned out as most all coastal rivers (Smith-Redwood-Mad-Eel— receiving top billing) are ripening for the picking. Want some steel? Its prime winter conditions in Ca. and options are open. Now get on your horse and ride!!!

Recent winter storms have also inspired other impressive migrations.