Low-Clear Flows + Hot Temps=Sensitive Conditions (Salmon-Steelhead Spooky)

Salmon
Returning home.

Be careful what you wish for. Anglers waiting for TR flows to drop got their wish as flows recently dropped to 450cfs. and fishing, as well as fish movements, has slowed dramatically. Low clear flows (dropping Oct. 15 to 300cfs.) and unseasonably hot temps, above 90 degrees, currently dominate and challenge even the best low water wizards.

The past five weeks high water flows, 900-1,000cfs., down the Trinity/Klamath were intended to help sustain desirable water temps to prevent any threat of a fish kill and did exactly that and much more. Late summer runs, staging in mid-river canyons, wasted little time and raced through the upper river in a matter of days while increased cool flows was just what the Doc ordered to activate major fall runs of both salmon and steelhead; creating some exceptional early- season high water opportunities for those who took advantage of the flush.

Trinity River fly fishing
John Noyes – Slab on,
Who’s Got Who?

This year’s fall Chinook salmon run is predicted to be one of the most robust in more than a decade and early data indicates the run is on track to meet that prediction. The Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) issued the first preliminary salmon counts showing how many salmon have been counted in the 2012 season. As of Aug. 31, close to 300,000 salmon were taken off the Ca. coast by both sport and commercial fishing fleets (Commercial harvest 172,914 —Sport harvest 111,196). Although this year’s catch obviously is an improvement over 2011’s, it is still only considered an average year by recent historical standards. Inland sport harvest, hatchery returns and escapement numbers will be available later in the year.

Fall Release
Sore arm release

We give the 2012 salmon run two thumbs up as we have experienced an unusually higher number of adult and jack Chinook hookups. Hooking and landing have proved to be two opposites. Fish we have landed are bright and healthy (recently observed a slab that was as large as a sheet of plywood) reflecting great ocean conditions. Current strong numbers appear to be representing the heat of the fall run. Salmon are scattered throughout the system, head to tail, with strong surges still entering the lower river. A few lead steelhead have entered the mix and shed another option.

Jack Salmon
Jacks are often eager to grab,
Garret sport’n smiles

It’s encouraging to witness a healthy salmon rebound, especially after years of depressed returns and controversy. Yet, you have to question, is this a fluke, simply a haunting reminder of the past or the beginning of a rebounding trend? Current fisheries data and predictions seem to be fairly accurate and surprisingly with the Bureau getting on board, releasing additional water, you almost feel there is hope. At this point in time, most exciting is to consider what is good for salmon is generally also good for steelhead. Bring your stealth approach, step in with a smile and appreciate what is now. Get Out there!

Full Flex Fly Fishing
Solid Flex–Ray Sardo
hang’n on.
Lead edge, native chrome

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