DEEPER SHADES OF CHROME (Tune in-They’re Coming)

Trinity River Fly Fishing

The beauty of steelheading is all it takes is, one fish, at the right time, right place and right fly to totally rock your world for the season

It has been nothing short of Smok’en-Hot for the past couple weeks, eleven consecutive days of over 100 degrees in Lewiston. OUCH! As a 34 year Trinity resident I cannot remember any summer that has been hotter; especially after last winter’s cold and wet rage. The good news, as of this post, cooler weather is predicted along with the possibilities of some light rains and, local waters are supporting primo water qualities, fishing and relief from the mid-day sizzle.

Rainbow Trout

The next generation starts here, Alec Bailey with his first fly caught bow; stoked for life

Late summer in Trinity County is an intense preview of transitioning seasons, fisheries, restless wildlife and landscape splendor. Even though it is mid-August and the heat of the summer, if you pay attention, symptoms of a Trinity fall transition is ever becoming present. Days are shorter, nighttime temps cooler and surrounding landscapes supporting maples, ash and cottonwoods, are slowly shedding their lush vivid green colors, bleached by persistent summer heat and sun. Bird behavior and migrations signal change as new arrivals take advantage of sanctuaries, feed and hunting opportunities while other varieties take flight aiming south. Well-worn paths and trails along lake and river shorelines are tell-tell signs upland game also feel the press of the fall season as they routinely take advantage of the cool early mornings – late evenings grazing on lush vegetation, scarfing berries, scouting the shallows for spawning salmon, and compete with otter, coons and mink digging and scavenging shorelines for muscles, lampreys and other tasty morsels; a final fatten-up in preparation for the big chill.

Trinity fisheries also feel the early transition. Stillwaters and tailwater resident trout begin coloring up in appearance while seeking freshets and pork with aggression as water temps slowly drop, signaling change. On the other hand brown trout tend to lose their ravaged diet as they sexually mature, darken in color and often take on steroid-like profiles while associating in pods, playing grab-ass with ripe females.TR spring- summer chinook, staging and maturing in the depths of deep pools and cool canyon waters all summer, slowly lose their strength and appetite as stomachs swell shut, yet motivated enough to exercise their last energies for a final courting and spawning ritual. Summer steelhead, seeking refuge and surviving the summer heat in similar water compositions have also matured, yet become restless, and begin associating with ripening adult salmon, taking advantage of easy egg omelets, when not inhaling other aquatic tidbits during their slow preparation for late fall-winter spawning. You’re next outing, in-between casts, tune in and appreciate some of the best things in life are free.

Anyone’s Guess

Brown Trout

Dog Days of Summer-Leah Russin accepted the challenge and put her mark on this slab Loch-leven.

What are the 2017 TR salmon-steelhead prospects? Well, we all know it is unrealistic to believe one wet winter, out of the past five years, is going to restore fish stocks anytime soon. So if you thought last year was challenging, better keep in mind, anadromous fish are cyclic and returns based upon quality water flows/temps, spawning/ rearing habitats, previous yrs. escapements, ocean conditions and much more. The five year drought, along with increased power and water demands, increased local commercial weed farming, lethal water temperatures, fires, poaching, and TRRP’s mechanical projects impacting/eliminating vital holding/staging pools throughout the upper river, have significantly impacted all Klamath-Trinity anadromous stocks. Sept. 1, Klamath-Trinity Chinook salmon closures, to all fishing, go into effect. F & W predict Klamath-Trinity Chinook salmon returns to be the lowest in 20 plus years. To date, TR spring-summer Chinook numbers are down and, unfortunately, in line with salmon predictions.

Every picture tells a story, featuring Gail Hoover and colorful counterpart

What are the 2017 TR steelhead prospects? Although premature, to date, TR summer steelhead numbers are also low, yet “native” adults are increasing as TR flows continue to drop. 2015 fall half-pound steelhead (1-2 yr. stocks) runs were all but non-existent? However, personal guide observations during the 2016 fall season revealed a significant increase in (1-2 yr. stock) half-pounders throughout September and October. One might assume increased numbers indicate quality instream and ocean conditions existed therefore steelhead fared well; possibly shedding light for the 2017 (2-3 yr. stock) adult steelhead returns. God only knows. Our observations may prove irrelevant and the fall 2016 half-pounder rebound may reflect nothing more than the unexplained crap shoot of anadromous fish returns. Predictions for the 2017 steelhead season raise more questions than answers so maintain faith. This year’s great water qualities are a blessing and the essential main ingredient for restoring anadromous fish. Stay positive, enjoy any steelheading opportunity and keep in mind; it takes one steelhead, at the right time, the right place, the right cast and with the right fly to get totally rocked for the entire season!

Straight from our local line-ups

All the way from “Surf City,” Tom Leva heightened the stoke, catching his first Nor-Cal adult TR summer steelhead

Last winter’s above average rainfall, topping local lake reserves and refueling all rivers and streams, is the saving grace of Trinity fisheries. Currently, most all waters are serving up options and delivering. While the the dog days of the summer can be challenging, a major key to success is keep the odds in your favor; target favorite waters early and late. High mountain lakes and creeks (Trinity Alps), stillwaters (Trinity Lake) and tailwaters (Lewiston Lake and Trinity River – currently flowing 450 cfs.), options are wide open; just need anglers with a desire and willingness to have fun. Now get out There!!!

Late summer restlessness and marauding the shallows and shorelines, close encounters are inevitable to most anyone devoting time steelheading

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