Searching for Cold Steel (2010 steelie overview)

Tom Weseloh on Trinity River

Just got off the phone with my good friend and fishing buddy, Tom Weseloh (North Coast Cal Trout District Rep.—see and/or and great to hear some exciting coastal fishing reports and river prospects. While Tom indicated he has been grinding out a very busy schedule he also mentioned he was able to get in on some solid early season Chinook/Coho fishing. (Top chinook measuring 421/2”) A blue bird weather forecast is slated for the week; many coastal rivers will be dropping and coming into prime shape. As Tom put it, “the best is yet to come.” Both of us painfully agreed, never enough time at the right time…Even when not fishing together it is always good to compare notes and discuss what is going on in each others waters and neck of the woods.

Trinity Fly Shop Guide serivce
Fall steelheading inspiration.

I indicated our phone has been ringing off the hook with many inquiries about the 2010 Trinity River steelhead run. Where are they? Is the run in yet? Last three years we caught this many steelhead and why not this year? Last but certainly not least a few disgruntled anglers have even served up; “Where’s the “Wad” or “Is it even worth it?” These are questions we receive daily and respond, at times with heavy restrain, with straight information and advice based upon on-the-water observations; not hearsay. While we try to help direct you to success and maintain positive attitudes we do have a devoted responsibility and commitment to tell it like it is or isn’t.

No doubt this year’s steelhead run has been challenging for most and a real learning curve for those weaned on the past few years of abnormal hatchery returns. Less predictability, multiple hook-ups and number crunching. Over all it has been an exciting and very respectable return for those willing to dig’em out. To help better understand this years steelhead runs and behaviors one should take the time, slow the train down, and consider the nature of this years weather patterns, rivers dynamics and fish returns.

November Steelhead
Most peoples smallest Steelhead is their
largest rainbow.

Early season river conditions (flows-temperatures) were favorable for both late summer-early fall chinook and steelhead in both the Trinity and Klamath Rivers. Cool weather and mid- September rains activated solid fish movements in both watersheds, this year many opting for the larger Klamath River. Heavy October rains (6-7”) simply blew out the Trinity (upper river reached 1800cfs.—Hoopa peaked up from 900 cfs. to 8,000) and restored unseasonably early flows in secondary rivers (South Fork-New-North Fork) as well as all other 41 tributaries. Unreal early season flushing. Remarkably within a few days the river dropped back into shape and revealed many native stocks opted for the secondaries while hatchery stocks raced through the system. Fish charged hard as weeks of runoff from rains and melting snow activated pulsing river flows and diluted any major steelhead concentrations. A scenario many new Trinity anglers have yet to experience. Here today, gone tomorrow conditions have kept many guessing. Those scoring success have either been just plain lucky or brought on their A-game and respectfully crunched’em out.

Trinity River beauity
A steelheader never tires
the Haunting beauty.

What does all this mean, God only knows. It is mid-November and it appears what we see is what we get. Fortunatly most anglers have adjusted to the conditions and are having a great time. Other positive notes; fresh native fish are currently filtering through the lower system, “Native” stocks are up, the entire watershed has great water flows and if Ma nature decides to cooperate we still have several more months of steelhead fishing. To those in question— Buck Up! Its steelhead season— step in with a smile and let current weather and river conditions dictate your moves and approach. “Is It Worth It?” (I even hate printing that) Hell yes its worth it! Few other fish can compare to the legendary Steelhead. (Most people’s smallest steelhead is their largest trout)! In Doubt? Ask yourself; How Many More Steelhead Seasons Will You Experience?