Just One More Cast (It’s all Good)

Dean Rizzi

Dean Rizzi believes in — “Go Big-Go Home”

I wish we had a scream’n steelhead report to deliver, just not so. Since our last post the winter season snuck in early, bringing significant rains and snow in the mountains and activating healthy cold water fluctuations. The majority fall steelhead raced through, many already in the secondaries, and we are currently awaiting winter runs. However there are still some nice late fall fish and bright half-pounders trickling throughout the upper reach, North Fork-Lewiston. It’s that time of year changing conditions are challenging both fish and fisherman while windows of opportunity are less frequent. Anglers willing to commit fish hard and lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time are being rewarded.


Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder—Trinity Fly Shop’s “Olive Breadcrust.” (old faithful)

This fall season there has been too much negative flap-jaw about TR low steelhead returns. Why? The one year, after almost a decade of solid TR steelhead returns, early runs are down its disappointing to witness long faces waddling around with wader-wedgies and whining about low tallies or blank punch cards. Personally, I have low tolerance for anyone complaining about any steelhead fishing. Especially when they are too narrow minded and unwilling to acknowledge a three to five inch TR juvenile steelhead migrates as far as 120 miles down the main stem, eluding predators, navigating varied water flows and compositions, body chemistry remarkably adapts from fresh to salt waters, matures one-two yrs. in one of the largest bodies of water in the world (Pacific Ocean), eluding predators, attempts to return to its natal river, body chemistry adapts from salt to fresh waters, eluding nets, inland fisherman, predators, challenging the elements with a perpetual drive to migrate the complexities of a river’s composition in an attempt to spawn; yet bites your fly, injecting an electrifying thrill that is often regarded as an accomplishment of a lifetime. How could anyone in their right mind complain or be disappointed? Personally, I feel any disgruntled TR steelheader should have their punch card revoked until they take a mandatory drive, HWY 299 West to Eureka, stopping at Hell Hole, Burnt Ranch Gorge, New R. confluence, Grey Falls and proceed—Hwy. 1 to Requa Point (confluence of the Klamath River and Pacific Ocean), observe appreciate and plead forgiveness.

Trinity River Steelhead

Most anyone can catch trout but not jut anybody can catch a steelhead—Whiff Collins exercising his preference.

Enough funk vibe. On the bright side we’re in the height of our steelhead season with two-three months still to go! To fuel the stoke, it’s that time of year some of the largest steelhead of the seasons, winter stocks, could be just around bend. Also it is exciting to witness the nor-Cal drought busting rains/snow and the positive impacts they have had on local resources and fisheries. Already this year, Trinity River flows have topped 29,000cfs. at Hoopa, while all tributaries and secondary rivers have also been pulsing with high flow volumes and accepting native stocks; something that hasn’t occurred in several years. Strange, last year you could not find a half-pounder. This year an encouraging number of native half-pounders, along with high water volumes, are present and could very well set the stage for promising 2017 returns; especially for native stocks. Keep in mind, El Nino-La Nino and also dubbed this year, ”schizophrenic,” what happens in the big blue rearing pond (Pacific) is anyone’s guess.

Lewiston Lake

Louie Lk. is showing signs of a rebound—Andy Laursen is all smiles with an exceptional native slab.

The above average rainfall and snow has also refreshed Trinity’s woods and forests and provided much needed runoff to help fill Trinity Lake ( TR’s main water source). Currently, Trinity Lake is at 50% capacity and on the rise. Last year, to date, TL was only 19% capacity. Rising lake levels not only help to ensure quality TR flows but also create and enhance lake habitats that benefit all resident fish stocks (salmon-trout-bass) as well open the door for migratory trout/salmon to enter spawning tributaries. And it’s only mid-December.

It gets better. The sediment plume, released from the bowels of Trinity Lake four yrs. ago and suffocated weed beds and quality habitats throughout the tailwaters of Lewiston Lake, is slowly purging with high flow releases. This fall it was obvious quality weed beds and aquatic habitats, mid-lake and lower flats, are redeveloping and nurturing micro envirtabreas and fish. Late summer midge and callibaetis mayfly hatches signaled high fertility levels and rebounding aquatic populations. Unfortunately, the drought all but dried up Lewiston’s tributary streams severely impacting native stocks. Not so this year, wet weather has refueled the juices in all tributaries creating additional desirable spawning and rearing habitats for native trout/salmon stocks. Exciting to ponder the future as Louie-Louie has always been much more that a favorite tune!

Bright Steelhead

Bright, explosive and still arriving.

Most every successful steelheader is an eternal optimist, just one more cast. The greater majority of steelheaders visiting Trinity County enjoy the beauty, appreciate the opportunity and, best of all, have fun. Regardless how many steelhead, 2016 represented a very positive year for Trinity’s fisheries and resources so nobody is going to bring any bah-humbug to this party.

Welcome 2017 with Faith, Peace on Earth and of course, Just One More Cast!