SOME SAY – EL NINO (Freshly Squeezed)

Fly Fishing the Trinity River

Like a WC Fields quote, “Half the fun of going to a party is the prep:” Well- Half the fun of Steelhead fishing is the Vibe and Heavy Anticipation!

Stuarts Fork

Full volume and doing its best to refuel Trinity lake-Stuarts Fork

For months forecasters predicted an abnormally wet and mild 2015-2016 winter (El Nino). And for months an angry Pacific viciously spawned, and continues to pump and deliver, mega surf (Eddie Aikau Waimea Bay-Pipeline-Jaws-Mavericks all fired off) west of the Hawaiian Islands, ultimately heading east, building intensity across thousands of miles of vast ocean before ferociously unloading huge swells along the west coast. (Boomers crested Crescent City jetty). El Nino, Atmospheric Rivers, Subtropical Slams or Mr. Toads Wild Ride, call it what you will. Someone woke the giant, the past week has been a deluge of a series of powerful subtropical storms that have hosed, flushed, flooded and battered most all northern California; bringing much needed rain and snow to its drought stricken watersheds.

Most anyone that has hung around the block a few years can attest the past 8-10 years has been, overall, an unseasonably dry run. Wet weather cycles have eluded the west coast, particularly California, for years and based upon historic climatic data, and or simply odds, a wet cycle is way overdue; possibly the time has come. So are wet weather patterns like this year the new norm? Will next fall-winter be more intense, delivering a double-whammy? Roll the dice, what happens next year is about as predictable as good fishing; your guess is as good as any.

What about the balance of the 2016 steelhead season? Will rivers ever clear and anglers get another shot? According to forecasters there is still plenty gas in the tank, above average temperatures and rainfall is forecasted through the remainder of the winter and entire spring season.


Even the smallest ravines are flowing full force.

Locally, in Trinity County, the rainfall has truly been a blessing but somewhat a double edge sward. Nobody likes Capt. Bringdown, however the entire Trinity watershed has been impacted by rains and heavy runoff; Trinity Lake peak inflows exceeding 39,000cfs.. Goods news, TL is on the rise (to date: exceeding 43% capacity). Sad news, TL (headwaters-source TR) is highly turbid, largely due to record low lake levels, exposed mud/clay shorelines and heavy rain-snow activating turbid runoff. As long as the headwaters remain turbid, the entire system, (Lewiston Lake and Trinity River) will flow turbid. Time frame the watershed purges, clears and becomes fishable largely depends upon weather patterns, precipitation (rains-snows) and how that impacts runoff.

Trinity Lake, CA

Trinity lake with a long ways to go.

Keep in mind TL is still very low and until lake levels reach specific flood control criteria only minimum flows are released; turbidity generally settles and clears slowly with less release as waters are stored. When TL reaches specific capacities flows are regulated, increased, to help prevent possible flooding; lake capacities drop and higher flows filter through the system and turbidity levels generally improve more rapidly. The haunting adverse impacts and complexities of constructing major water buckets, for power and diversion, and transforming a free flowing watershed into regulated water valves marketing liquid gold. Remarkably fish return.

Here is a glance of what has been happening in our neighborhood. In the meantime enjoy the wet and wild and the fact rivers are once again pulsing and impoundment water capacities are rising. All in all it may be a while folks.


Last season wasn’t up to some anglers’s standards. However those willing to dig in and dig’em out intercepted some late winter natives.