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 ( 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.