Freestone Fun (beat the heat–head to the high country)

Trinity Alps
Native remnant-sporting colors.

E-Yow! It’s been blazing hot this past week. Scorching temps have soared over the century mark, even in our neck of the woods, creating thirst and desire for bountiful numbers of your favorite chilled beverages that seem to go down way to easy. Mild nights, long days, blaring sunlight and prolonged hot temps are simply harsh fishing conditions and quite the norm during peak summertime. Most all lower elevation fisheries are impacted and during heat up periods fish tend to develop modified feeding habits. Seeking low lighting and cooler temperatures trout are most activate early mornings and late evenings. Mid-day most fisheries downshift into a neutral mode while trout tend to be become lethargic and develop heavy eyelids. To achieve optimum conditions and keep the odds off success in your favor anglers need to target lower elevation waters early and late…

Freestone streams
Freestone scour & rage.

But what about fishing mid-day during the heat? Get high young man. No, not agriculturally enhanced or intoxicated, although if that’s your bag. Head to the high country waters of Trinity County where it is much cooler and mid-day fishing can be refreshing and much more forgiving. Trinity County is blessed with a remarkable number of headwater freestone streams that are just now coming into great shape after an extensive runoff. These sweet water gems include upper Trinity River, East Fork Trinity River, Swift Creek, Coffee Creek, Stuarts Fork, Papoose Creek and many others. (Reference Streamtime Trinity River Map—always available at T.F.S.) Mostly freestone compositions these headwaters streams offer a variety of scenic and challenging pocketwater/pool fishing. Rock hopping and target casting small drys, nymphs and terrestrials with lightweight outfits (2-3wts.) for healthy populations of native rainbows, browns and brookies. Overshadowed by other popular Trinity waters these streams receive moderate to light fishing pressure therefore fish can be quite eager and willing. Multiple hook-ups are common. ( Ok-Ok—number crunchers can apply…) Most trout are small, however on occasion larger lake run trout are available and catch the unsuspecting angler off guard; usually departing fly and tippets and leaving the surprised angler wide eyed and stunned.

Trout release
Brookie ain’t no lady.

The Alps terrains are rugged, remote and no gemmy. While these streams are inviting they are close but far away. Spirited heart anglers have to invest time and effort for sweet rewards. It is wise to develop a game plan when selecting waters for fishing. A favorite personal approach is to stash a mountain bike at the lower end of your approach. Target waters above and hike/fish down to your bike. Another option that doesn’t involve a mountain bike is select waters adjacent old logging or secondary roads. Hike/fish downstream and hike back up the road and walk back upstream. Optimally it would be great to have someone pick you up at the end of a stretch of selected water. All these options permit you to thoroughly fish more waters without the hassle of hiking back up stream. Devoted freestone anglers know the drill — Minimize your hiking efforts to maximize your fishing. Wade wet, it is refreshingly enjoyable and adds to the comfort level from the heat. Go light, a small backpack is ideal. Carry only what is needed. (Handful flys-tippits-hemos-license-bevs/snacks etc.) When fishing the Trinity freestone streams it is all but haunting as the wind blows through the canyons and whispers the tales these waters not long ago supported legendary runs of salmon and steelhead. The spirit and beauty of these colorful natives are cherished remnants of their ancestors and a reminder of Ma Nature and her will to survive and perpetuate. Respect, tred lightly, catch-release, and heat up to cool down.