Something to Talk About (And Then Some)

It’s been awhile since Patty and I traveled through the Central Valley and, rebounding from a recent early morning road trip, was surprised to see the CV refreshed and very much alive. Most notably, water everywhere. Farmlands were all but flooded, threatening to breach check levies, and every creek, large and small (Putah-Thomes-Cottonwood etc.), refueled and contributing additional volumes into an already swollen Sacramento River and secondary rivers. Is the 2017 winter a one hit wonder or is it the beginning of a multi-year wet weather cycle? Something we have not witnessed in several years.

Catching our attention CV’s saturated wetlands displayed impressive flights and staging waterfowl. Delevan, Gray Lodge the Buttes and even west, Geese (Honkers-Specs-Snows), Ducks (Mallards-Pintail-Teal-Widgeon) and a variety of other waterfowl and valley birds, (Swans, Ibis, Curlew, Egret, Heron, Starling), were plentiful and, possibly just our timing, populations appeared healthy and content in their waterlogged environments. Something we have not witnessed in several years.

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  • Shad Camp 2016
  • Shad are in!
  • Here's to another great shad year!
  • 2016 Shad mug
  • Steve Hopkins and friend
  • Scott Watson with a dandy
  • Shad on!


The Perfect Storm (Possibly?)

Trinity River

Find Waldo (TR)-Trinity Winter Whiteout

Anyone that has traveled the lower Trinity River canyon, Hwy 96 below Willow Creek, and noticed the Cal Trans. sign (1964 High Water Mark) adjacent Big Rock Quarry generally slows down, or stops, amazed and even bewildered; the distance between the Trinity River and established 64 high water crest is all but unimaginable.

Trinity County Storm

Recent storms have dumped impressive snowfall amounts to all Trinity County

It’s been long overdue, not since 1982-83, and most recent 1997, ominous weather patterns, intense snow packs, warm subtropical rains associated with unseasonably mild air temps and rising snow levels, aliened and currently hammering northern and central CA. A subtropical weather pattern, aka “atmospheric river,” associated with heavy amounts of rainfall, up to 12” in the eastern foothills and central valley locations, along with mild temps and rising snow levels is predicted throughout the week and expected to cause excessive and uncontrolled runoff and severe flooding; red flagging much of the state with flood alerts and road closures. Say Goodbye Drought?

Rush Creek

Heavy rains, mild temps, rising snow levels activating intense runoff-Rush Creek revving it up.

Weather patterns of this nature are nothing new to sunny California. They seem to occur about every 10-15 yrs.. It was the 1964 flood that was blamed for the demise of the Eel River and all but washing lower coastal communities, surrounding Eureka, off the map. That same year, Trinity Dam was completed and first year in full operation. Hydrologists and engineers predicted it would take five (5) yrs. for the new Trinity Lake to fill to capacity. The 64 flood filled Trinity Lake within “one skinny inch” of toppling over the newly constructed earthen-dam. A Bureau draft report commented, “thank God the Lord shut the spigot off just in time”. Too much, or as the past five years have demonstrated too little, managing waters in California’s dammed reservoirs and rivers have always been a major juggling act for water agencies and hydrologists; especially when intense weather patterns of this nature blast California. 1997 was another wild weather scenario that proved dicey for those at the controls as well as local Trinity residents. Inflows to Trinity lake exceeded 160,000cfs, lake capacity was 90% and manual releases from Trinity dam tapped out at 6,000cfs.. Do the math, frightening and just short of an uncontrolled spill/release; water agencies dodged another bullet.

Anyone traveling north should be well advised of the following:

A – Buckhorn Summit (Hwy 299 West Redding) is susceptible to chain requirements/restrictions. This year, during extreme snow conditions, Caltrans is also requiring all 4X4’s to be chained up, along with AT tires. Conditions dictate so be prepared!

B – Del Loma Slide (five miles west of Big Bar) is a sensitive slide adjacent the TR; simply, the shale mountain is coming down. Hwy 299 West has been closed and is in question for reopening. This storm will not help.

C – HWY 36 Red Bluff to Eureka (299 Detour alternate route) is not a stroll through the park and often impacted by severe weather and susceptible to chain requirements/restrictions and closures. Be in tune.

*** You can always check out Trinity Fly Shop’s face page for Caltrans web site or contact them directly (Caltrans.com or 800-427-7623) for updated and current road conditions and closures.

Lost art? Not at the TFS. Now is the time to get with it with your favorite patterns.

Obviously steelheaders are facing some down time, for how long will be dictated by Ma Nature. The upper TR, above Rush Creek, will be the first to clear when storms back off, waters clear and flows settle. Anyone showing signs of trout withdraw, currently the brief stretch of water below Trinity Dam, upper Lewiston Lake, is currently clear and fishable. For those hanging loose; wise decision. Cure for cabin fever? Now is a good time to crunch at the vise tying and restocking favorite steelhead flies in preparation for the next window to jump. For reliable and current up-to-date river/ fishing conditions contact TRINITY FLY SHOP (530-623-6757)—33yrs. your Trusted Local Source! Stay Safe and Stay Tuned!

Trinity River Steelhead

Like an old vehicle that runs great just before it blows- a few of the newer models were beginning to show.

  • Shad Camp 2016
  • Shad are in!
  • Here's to another great shad year!
  • 2016 Shad mug
  • Steve Hopkins and friend
  • Scott Watson with a dandy
  • Shad on!


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.

Continue reading

  • Shad Camp 2016
  • Shad are in!
  • Here's to another great shad year!
  • 2016 Shad mug
  • Steve Hopkins and friend
  • Scott Watson with a dandy
  • Shad on!


When the Going Gets Tough (Only the Tough Go Steelheading)

Trinity River Steelhead

Like Father (Bob Burke), like Son (Jeff Burke) double down.

“Just like the old days,” is the comment many Trinity River anglers, familiar with the 70-80’s fishing, have referenced 2016 steelheading. Weeks of a stunningly beautiful Trinity fall landscape, screaming with colors and mystic, that generate exciting hype and fishing vibe, unseasonably mild Oct-Nov. weather patterns formulating primo river conditions, water temps pushing 52-53 degrees (ideal for skating’em up), media buzz and flap-jaw deterring number seekers, opening waters and options and the sweet rewards of occasional success and challenging fishing left to those who appreciate the full package and willing to dig’em out. That’s right folks, the 2016 TR fall steelhead season is “just like old days” yet better; it is here and happening now.

Wild Release

Unintended alley-oop release-Andy Laursen behind it all.

Since our last post fishing hasn’t changed much, spotty, with the exception of some rains that shuffled spits and sputters of some unusually large hatchery stocks (a few exceeding 10 lbs.), Big Bar up river through Junction and Douglas City. On the down low, some smaller size steelies, brief bursts of 2-3 lb. native adults, have also been showing and getting attention. Never underestimate size. When the iron hits home, attitudes flair and energies throttle; these smaller chromies give you a run for the money that often exceeds, and puts to shame, some of the large, double-sized, hatchery stock performances. Interesting power-punch size, why and what secondary reared and spit them out or are they main stem jewels. And what do they represent, drought rebounding super stocks for 2017; the beauty, mystic and wonder of steelhead.

Wading

Fall steelheading—Tim Leary in the power groove.

To date, there hasn’t been any cold weather or a freeze so water temps and prolonged fog and cloudy patterns have keep fish happy, strung out and on the move. This fall, there is no magic fishing method that shines or appears more effective than another; it’s all good and simply a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Keep in mind, steelhead are sparsely distributed so cover plenty of water. Fish thoroughly yet invest minimal time. Change it up, serve’em a variety of flavors fished in varied water columns and, most importantly, remain confident and feel the stoke for the opportunity. If fish are actively showing yet unreceptive, to nymphing or wet fly swinging, return later and target the upper water columns, even the surface, during peak air and water temperatures and when aquatics are most active. This approach has proved very effective; especially since water temps are mild and this year’s October caddis hatch, throughout the upper river, has been one of the best and longest durations I can remember. And fish are on’em, expressing great interest, accepting both skating and dead drifted patterns!

Steelhead Release

Ted Gallagher releases his second on a skater.

Effective fly patterns and selections are actually up to the angler and what they feel best compliments technique, waters fished and enforce confidence. The past few weeks a little bit of everything has been scoring however the following have been our go- to selections for traditional skating and wet fly swinging/drifting you might consider.

DRIESSteelhead Muddlers, Kit- Chuckie- Joe’s- It, Rusty Bomber, Greased Liner, Mr. Beam. (Sizes-4-6-8-10’s)

WETSBurlaps, Rusty Caddis Pupa, Breadcrust, Copper-tone Golden Stone-Rock Mr. Pimp, Ole-Blue,Fall Hilton-Silver Hilton-Renegade, (Sizes 6-8-10-12’s)

Switch-SpeyHobo, Rock, Burnt Chicken, Mr. Pimp Kit-Chuckie- Joe’s-It Fall Palm Skater. (Sizes 2-4-6-8)

Trinity River Release

Jan C. used to visit and fish with her grandpa, pre-dam Trinity R.-reconnecting roots in a steelie way. (1st. on the GRAB)

More wet weather is predicted for the upcoming weeks, snow levels dropping, that will more than likely put the kibosh to what has been happening; the beauty of steelheading, fish and conditions forever changing and success is inevitable often when least expected. Keep an eye on the next round of weather, rainfall amounts and river heights (www.trinityflyshop current river conditions). Within the next few weeks lead winter fish should be turning the corner and available throughout the lower TR system. If weather patterns remain dry and flows drop get on your horse and ride! Stay Tuned-Solid Grabs!!

Sunset

Trinity Harvest Moon and Fire Sky are an unexpected angling highlight that makes you wish the day doesn’t end.

  • Shad Camp 2016
  • Shad are in!
  • Here's to another great shad year!
  • 2016 Shad mug
  • Steve Hopkins and friend
  • Scott Watson with a dandy
  • Shad on!