FISH STORES TOLD HERE-SOME TRUE!!! (Flashbacks etc.)

Anyone fishing the TR late winter with any regularity has witnessed the beauty and significance of the (Callibaetis) mayfly.

In the event anyone else is blinded by the light, as comedian Brian Regan referenced, “the big yellow one is the sun”. Finally spring! Or is it?

Carr Fire impacts to TR upper reach tributaries. Headwaters demand serious habitat restoration,. Time to turn the keys off TRRP mainstream projects and invest $ and efforts to curb sediment loads in the mainstream.

I realize it has been a while since my last post. Although I’m climbing the ladder a bit more slowly these days, this time, not my excuse. It’s just been one of those prolonged winter-spring transitions that has been nothing short of rowdy and unpredictable. Local waters and fishing have been just as unpredictable; blown out, turbid, bouncing barometric pressure, solid grab one day, humbled the next; conditions literally changed by the day, hour and sometimes by the minute. Factor in the Carr fire impacts to upper river secondary’s (Deadwood, Hoadley, Grass Valley) purging heavy sediment loads into the mainstream, gut instincts led you to believe the river was out for the year. On that note, it was hard to get motivated or inspired about anything that was truly anyone’s guess.

Buzzer Beater! TR guide, Darren Victorine, landed his last steelhead, preciously at the sound of the Lewiston Dam alarm flushing TR. The innocent native hen pounced a T-Bone!

I will mention those willing to risk it and lucky enough to score fishable conditions, did well, not numbers, but tightening up on kelts and a good number of fresh run late winter natives. And, while weeks of overcast rain and balmy conditions might have been gloomy and depressing for some, it prolonged generations of Callibaetis (mayfly) and Calineuria (stonefly) hatches that triggered dependable dry opportunities and helped refuel the stoke. A final added bonus, April 1 TR “Fly Only” waters reopened and fired off one of the better openers in years. Solid mid-day dry action with an added spice of exciting meat and potatoes (streamer) fishing yielding occasional late winter slabs;  a great, totally unexpected, highlight to wrap up the 2018-2019 steelhead seasons.

Over 40 inches of rainfall, 160% plus average snowpack, headwaters flowing full steam and Trinity lake capacity pushing 90%“what does all this mean? Its Goanna blow captain, goanna blow! April 14 it did. The Bureau allocated a wet water year (701,000 acre ft.) and increased TR flows that will peak 10900 cfs. April 29. Odd, above average rainfall and record snowpack, many are questioning why wasn’t the TR dealt an extreme wet (815,000) allocation? Go figure. Should also mention we dodged a bullet. Remarkably TR headwaters are clear and surprisingly were not severely impacted by last winter’s rage.  Early 2018 winter storms were cold, dumping snow in the Alps and lower levels, minimizing runoff, in Trinity-Lewiston Lakes. Never have I observed this amount of rainfall and snowpack with minimal impacts to headwaters. (Early 70’s- 80’s-1997 entire TR watershed was turbid for the year). To date, spring runoff has not even begun and with California getting

hosed, head to tail, this fall-winter could prove interesting, possibly okole squeezer, with lakes potentially supporting healthy, above average, carryover capacities. It’s been a while since the last round of multi-year wet cycles.

Without a doubt high flows are a blessing and will benefit habitats, wildlife and hopefully help set the stage for rebounding anadromous fish stocks.  The latest TMC Flow Schedule (http://www.trrp.net/restoration/flows/current) indicates TR flows will remain high and unfishable through much of June and into July. High water is everywhere and not going away anytime soon, get used to it. For those wanting to keep in tune with their gear and need a spring Trinity fix, consider the following local options.

Springtime is always a popular season for spiny-rays and fly fishers. Why, they pull and crush flies!

TRINITY–RUTH LAKES- Large-smallmouth bass fishing fires all spring-early summer; with this year’s above average snowpack/runoff possibly all summer and into early fall. Opportunities for jumbo buckets and smallies, pre-spawn grab happening NOW. Springtime warming temps key. Although plenty of shore fishing available, no doubt, boat, pram, pontoon, tube gives you the edge.

Trinity Lake rivermouth/boca fishing for trout and landlocked steelhead has always been a personal favorite. The upper TR is open year-round; other streams (East Fork-Stuarts Fork-Swift Cr.-Papoose) do not open until general trout opener April 27 (Sat.). Scenery is epic and fishing the mix with a variety of styles, can be very rewarding. Seldom numbers, however the quality of fish is high caliber. Trout, bass and landlocked salmon stage and graze these waters. Limited wade fishing available and floating devise offers mobility that helps increase the odds. Both lakes offer excellent spring-summer camping options.

Classic Lewiston lake specimen-Flawless with an attitude.

LEWISTON LAKE- Cold, rich and fertile tailwater supporting biggins! A Bureau design, strictly for power and water diversion to CVP, Lewie-Lewie resembles a large spring creek, flowing much of the year based upon water diversions, and is a popular tailwater to many fly fishers. It’s rich and fertile habitats are grossly infected with mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, midge, damsels, dragons, scuds, aquatic wasp, lampreys, you name it and they probably exist and consumed by bows, occasional browns and landlocked salmon. Early spring “Aquatic Wasp” (Hymenoptera) steal the show. Warming spring temps activate generation “float-ups” that get the attention of every double-digit fish and lite up the lower flats and protected bays off main channels. Lewie fishes year-round, supports fishing opportunities for all anglers, including handy-cap access, and offers excellent camping facilities. Primo lodging is available at Lakeview Terrace (New cool owners- remodeled cabins) and boat rentals, tackle, good advice and fun people/owners (Matt-Louise) available at Pine Cove marina.

GRASS VALLEY LAKE- (requires a 45 minute hike)-Nestled atop Buckhorn summit and only 10 minutes from Trinity Fly Shop, this 40 acre gem is popular for float tubers seeking solitude, quality fishing and scenic surrounds. GV supports a healthy population of small (8-14”- occasionally larger) resident and land-locked steelhead willing to accept a variety of offerings; nymphs, dries and most popular, leeches- streamers- damsels fished deep and on the strip. Semi-wilderness walk on the wild side and should fish well into mid-summer this year.

Sad but true—Tim and Joy Brady closed TRINITY OUTDOORS. An iconic Weaverville based sporting goods store that filled a void with quality goods and services for over 30 years. A real loss to all outdoor enthusiasts. Wonder if on line sporting good sources deliver to campgrounds or drop ship wilderness areas?

Does any of the above sound familiar? Well, if so, you know Trinity well. High water and spring conditions dictate this diverse and exciting lineup. All are quality fisheries, much more than simple options, and await those willing to step out of the box and explore exciting new opportunities. Keep in mind, Trinity Fly Shop (530-623-6757.  www.trinityflyshop.com ) is your local source. We not only have the goods to help you score, our knowledgeable staff is always available to answer your questions, provide helpful advice and ensure your Trinity experiences are fun and memorable. Enjoy The Spring and See Ya On The Water!

Mike Callan

Sandy Noyes

Steve Hopkins

Jeff Rhodes

Andy Laursen

SPARSE SERVINGS (Scratching for Tidal Chinook)

Glenn Burton glass stretching and feel’n it.

It was after losing a shooting head to a coastal slab having his way with me, I got bit hard last year fly fishing for north coast chinook. My first outing I was lucky to hook up, feel the surging power, and not so lucky, as I realized my situation raced from bad to worse. My 8 wt. Bad Ass Glass was far from bad, lacked bone, and under gunned proved a big mistake that led to getting towed around, in a six ft. dingy, by the chrome culprit that ultimately snatched my fly line. As my Grandson would say, “I learned the hard way.” Rookie moves haunted me and after nearly a year of a wounded ego, I could not wait for 2018 and the opportunity for some coastal revenge.

Another day in paradise, Motley Crew

Since my first encounter, fly fishing north coast chinook has evolved into a personal bucket list challenge. The lure of coastal giants fresh from the salt, dramatic coastal beauty, smell of salt air, towering redwoods, anchored- up casting shooting-heads and probing the depths, the strange acclimation to the sounds of breakers along the coast in one ear and hearing a distant riffle in the other and reflecting the era of those fortunate to have pioneered the Lost Coast fisheries, all blend to enhance the hype and desire. Nobody said it would be easy yet my friends and I are fortunate longtime north coast angler, Glen Stanley, has helped us cultivate a better understanding of tides, conditions, and overall coastal fisheries. His direction and positive advice, “only a tide away from a fresh rack,” is invaluable and without his knowledge and willingness to share, chances are, we would be lost bloodhounds.

 

Glen Stanley dredging in light and shadows.

My 2018 guiding year ended early November and Glen and I had already locked into a week’s reservations for the north coast; gear prepped, flies tied- inventoried and jacked to the hilt, this year my brother Glenn, number two, was joining us. Time off, salmon adrenalin flowing and possibilities of sweet revenge, everything appeared perfect except one minor detail; somebody forgot to turn on the faucet. An abnormally dry fall and little to no rainfall equated no flows no rivers and low flow closures were in effect on all north coast rivers; odd for November. Tidewaters were an option, rain was forecasted and, as agreed, one missing element was not going to ruin the party; we remained positive.

Who’s got who-Hanging on and learning the hard way. GS Photo

As it turned out rain forecasts were a myth and unseasonably mild beautiful weather dominated. We knew it would be a royal longshot however; the limited waters we targeted appeared inviting and promising. Despite our efforts, investing five days of solid fishing, nobody got bit. We did witness a few salmon; unfortunately all being chomped and devoured by the local seal colony. Regardless our time on the water was a great learning curve and we enjoyed quality time together. As I’ve preached, if I based a good time solely upon a tally of fish caught I would have quite fishing years ago.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Regardless how could anyone not have a good time here, Drift prep. GS Photo

Weeks later, Thanksgiving, a series of fronts brought significant rainfall, refueling coastal rivers and Glen took advantage of the new pulse; fishing two days strangely without a touch. Here today, gone tomorrow? Despite less than encouraging reports, a week later, coastal river flows dropped and held to what we thought would be primo. With the hope of fresh arrivals, Kit and I bolted north for a few days; surprisingly scratching zeros. Wrong place, wrong time? I thought steelhead were the ultimate challenge. 2018 north coast salmon runs eluded many. Chalk it up to the mystic and unpredictability of anadromous fish and their environments. The question remains, are coastal salmon runs over? Or, are they abnormally late as a result from the dry fall weather pattern? The answer is anyone’s guess and no better way to find out than to commit and get on your horse and ride with the next wet weather patterns. I did forget to mention, earlier a coastal river delivered a beast, weighing in just less than 65 lbs., if that might be a trip breaker.

Xmas ornament colors often appeal to coastal slabs.

Locally, recent rains added a touch of juice and color to the TR main stem and were just what the doc ordered to raise water temps and activate fish movements. A mix of both hatchery and native fall fish are scattered throughout the system with the bulk currently filtering thru North Fork, JC and Douglas City. Additional storms are forecasted for upcoming weeks and rains should inspire traditional winter stocks into the system and secondaries.. Keep in mind winter weather plays a major role in river conditions. Traveling anglers might consider including a floating devise (boat- pram- pontoon- float tube) for Lewiston and Trinity Lakes. Both generally withstand harsh weather patterns (in the event the river blows), within easy striking distance and often prove to be much more than winter options. Thank You for Your Loyal Support & Best Fishes for 2019!!!

SWEET SEPTEMBER (Twitch- Twitch)

2018 is one of the worst fire seasons on record. No better way to find your stride than immersing yourself in shattered mirrors—Darrin Victorine liquid chrome searching.

Sweet September, it’s cool evenings and warm mellowing days, is a personal favorite time of year that tends to broadcast a contagious hype and restlessness as the seasonal fall transition becomes ever present. Since the beginning of the month Pat and I have experienced an added spring in our step and for good reason; the Carr fire is 100% contained, smoke and air qualities continue to improve, HWY 299 West is open, days are shorter, air/water temps are dropping and fresh-run coastal chrome is entering lower systems; highlighting what may be a hint of normality returning to our lives.

All smiles, Sandy Noyes doing what she loves to do best, fly fish the Trinity River and cash in

Like a major holiday celebration, each and every steelhead season is special. As we prepare for the upcoming fishing seasons, a severe case of “steelhead twitch” has infected all of us. Tending daily chores and maintaining rhythms have been a bit of a challenge as we occasionally lose focus dreaming about fresh arrivals and the possibilities of a few with our flies embedded in their maxillaries. Regardless how many years you have fished or guided steelhead, when they are in, one never remedies the twitch. Although spending as much time on the water as your lifestyle permits helps. If it isn’t in the cards call (530)-623-6757 or e-mail: trinflyguy@shasta.com for solid grab suggestions, reliable on-the-water steelheading updates and technique/fly selection counseling or to simply share the stoke!

We have also been pumped restocking and inventorying TFS with new quality goods and merchandise to better serve you and your friends. We have expanded our fly selections with new deadly and locally fashioned steelhead flies (Wets-Dries-Skaters-Nymphs); guaranteed not online. We’ve also expanded our fly tying materials, (including hard to get bad-ass salmon/steelhead fluorescent rooster necks & broaden Gamakatsu-TMC-Daiichi hook selections), books (great new/old steelhead reads), soft wears and exciting gift items. Remember, we’ve invested 35 yrs. as your destination Trinity Fly Shop; we know your fishing needs. Besides our flies taste better!!!

Unexpected smoke obscured trophy hunkering riverside—SHHHH—its open season!

750 cfs seems to be the magic TR flows for now and has been since the Carr fire impacting Whiskeytown powerhouse. For how long is anyone’s guess. Higher flows have dropped water temps in both the lower Klamath and Trinity rivers and fresh salmon-steelhead have been on the move in both systems for weeks. A recent excursion to the lower TR gorge produced bulk half-pounder activity that provided exciting skating and greased lining favorite patterns. Chrome small-giants, days from salt and many never seen a fly. Did I mention smoke’n hot? Was encouraged witnessing firsthand the lead edge on the move and grabby. Staging spring chinook, throughout the mid-sections of the TR up to Lewiston, have matured and are beginning to show interest in riffles and tailouts for spawning. Scattered summer steelhead pods are also beginning to make their move, from the cool deep water pools, seeking riffles, pocketwaters as well as sniffing mature adult salmon; stay tuned-egg hatch soon. Most hard working anglers are scoring about a fish, adults averaging 3-6 lbs., per outing swinging a variety of favorite standbys (low water Hiltons-Green butt skunks-Burlaps-Chappies). We have experienced best success swinging and skating (small Bombers, Palm skaters, Kit-Chuckie-Joes-its and Muddlers) early and late.

Early season fresh arrivals are seldom particular; find them, tie on any favorite color and stick your finger in the light socket.

To date, with the exception of the lower gorge, there really doesn’t seem to be any major fish concentrations, steelhead are scattered head to tail (Douglas City- down). Keep the odds in your favor, stay on the move, what looks good- fish it, notice activity and no takers-return later. Most importantly have fun and maintain confidence. Mid-day fishing has been tough, sun bleached waters and temps are still climbing above 90 degrees. West bank shadows and favorite ice cold hops are key should you decide to grunt thru it.

September 22 (Sat), 9:00am is 2018 Trinity River Clean-Up sponsored by the US Forest Service and Cal Trans; after cleanup (3:00pm) a free BBQ at Pigeon Point. A great opportunity and user friendly for guides to give back, policing river/banks while floating clients. Anyone going to be in the area and would like to contribute contact: Weaverville ranger Station: (530) 623-2121 or Amelia Fleitz at afliets@fs.fed.us. For the love of fish & the Trinity River!

There are never enough steelheading opportunities in anyone’s lifetime—Be good to yourself— Do It!

Absolutely nothing wrong with down and dirty. However, the visual and sound of a steelhead crushing your skater is life changing; Double dare Ya.

SHAD ON A FLOATER

Yuba River Shad

Soloing the soft edge with a floater

Currently we are in the height of this year’s shad runs and Joe Neil’s input could not come at a better time. We were very fortunate Joe worked at the Trinity Fly Shop for over nine years. His devoted fly fishing lifestyle, on-the-water knowledge and willingness to share is invaluable and sure to help anyone, who reads between the lines, excel and become a more accomplished angler. Thanks Joe!

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