TUGS-BUGS- SLUGS & MORE (Fishing Update)

Springtime in Trinity County has many moods sure to inspire and reward, Boca fishing Trinity Lake

Tried to get this out sooner to give you all a heads up on water flows for the 2018 year, however the bureau has been dragging their heels trying to figure it out. Finally, we were informed the Trinity basin will receive a “critically dry” flow allocation; based upon (28%) snow-pack and below average rainfall in Trinity County. This translates into 369,000 acre feet of water and minimum flows (450 cfs.) the greater majority of the year; a complete flip-side from last year’s extreme wet flow allocation (815,000 acre feet) and high river flows through July. Increased flows will begin April 16-(reference 2018 TR flow schedule).

The downside, this year’s bare minimum flows will challenge fish stocks, wildlife, habitats and the very best low-water steelhead and trout anglers. The upside, TR should be fishable all spring-summer-early fall, until fall-winter rains. Also, we are still experiencing wet weather patterns bringing much needed rains and snow to the mountains. Below average spring temperatures have prolonged annual runoff, headwater capacities are still on the rise and more unsettled weather is forecasted. Bring it on we’ll take every drop!

It Ain’t Over Till it’s Over

Not your typical springtime attire, steelheader John Regan and native counterpart don’t seem to mind

I was on the river, prior to this post, with good friends Frank and Nikki Blum and we froze our asses off; heated soup and a beautiful 4-5 lb. late winter native hen was our salvation. Bitterly cold, windy-rainy, you would never have known it was spring with the exception of a chorus of confused frogs and song birds and surrounding landscapes reflecting early colors. The rowdy winter-like pattern (dumping of over 4” rainfall) inspired yet another pulse of beautiful, small (3-5 lbs.) late winter natives into the upper Trinity River providing some solid wet and dry fly activity. So why unseasonably late TR steelhead returns? To the best of our knowledge, based on the high percentage of natives and consistent size/year class showing, we surmise late runs may be related to drought-like conditions that persisted this past winter along with extreme low flow conditions; secondary native stocks staged and ultimately opted for the mainstem. March-April rains/snow refueled the system and inspired late season movements into the upper reach. Chances are your guess is as good as ours. In other words, our observations may be nothing more than hog-wash. Perhaps there is no rhyme or reason and late returns are simply an unexplained wonder of Ma Nature; the beauty and mystic of steelhead.

Where Do We Go from Here

Smile’n Steve Hopkins with one of several natives caught on dries head hunting this spring

April 1 TR “Fly Only” waters re-opened and as expected was a popular social affair with solid lineups Sunday-Monday. Over all fishing was excellent and most everyone scored. Excellent mid-day hatches (Callibaetis/PMDs) provided quality dry fly opportunities while nymphing and streamer fishing also yielded late winter runs, rebounders and healthy half-pound residuals. Mid-week pressure thinned dramatically; you could pick any waters desired. Fishing remains solid, especially with the blessings of the wet weather patterns prolonging quality mid-day hatches. All will change, good bad anyone’s guess, with increased flows as well as annual juvenile hatchery steelhead releases beginning April 17.. Fly waters remain fishable (thru 1500cfs.). Its game on thru September 15th..

Kiss My Bass

Local bass anglers have reported slowly rising Trinity Lake levels and capacities have been ideal and large-smallmouth pre-spawn bass fishing has been solid for the past few weeks. Tapering flats around Trinity Center and Cedar Flat are always favorable choices while rocky points and shelfs throughout the narrows and Papoose arm are other great options. Recent windy and wet weather added a touch of color therefore crankbaits, swim baits and grubs have all been producing. Looking to step out of the ordinary- Fly fishing options are wide open. TL Inflows are averaging 4-6000cfs. and enticing trout to school and feed in and around feeder streams in preparation for spawning. Aquatic wasp, first generation, already hatched on TL and according to Kit Kreick both smallies and trout were on them. If large bodies of water aren’t appealing, smaller Ruth Lake, in southern Trinity County (headwaters Mad River) is another great spring option for bass and spiny rays. Current lake levels are primo and the east side of RL (Boy scout camp) offers great skiff-pram-float tube fly fishing; supporting classic coves, points and weedy habitats and structures. Excellent camping options on RL combine to make this a great early spring outing for all.

Trinity Spring Trout About

GB with a bright late winter native eager to scarf on mid-day drifting duns, and his offering

Grass Valley Lake, (8 miles from Trinity Fly Shop atop Buckhorn summit), is firing off NOW and requires a 45 min. scenic semi-wilderness walk on the wild side and offers excellent float tube fishing for eager landlocked steelhead. If GVL sounds labor intensive; keep an eye on the rich and fertile tailwaters of Lewiston Lake. Increased flows should activate fish movements into the upper channels creating quality spring dry fly head hunting as well as reliable leech and streamer fishing for resident slugs. Wet weather patterns are key for dependable Callibaetis and Midge hatches throughout the lower flats while the first warming trends of spring activate one of the most anticipated hatches of the year— aquatic wasp(hymenoptera); every double digit slug puts on the feed bag. Sound advice- Never leave home without’em! General Trout opener is just around the bend April 28 (Sat.). Down and out diehard steelheaders not feel’n the love from anything mentioned no worry. TR springers (chinook-steelhead) should be showing in the lower system within the next few weeks, rebooting another year of opportunity and stoke.

Always Your Local Source

Grandson, Mason Sayre, expresses his talents and tattoos’ a healthy halfie with a TFS original “Bullet” dry fly

Trinity County abounds with a unique diversity of quality year-round fisheries sure to pacify even the most demanding anglers. Regardless time of year or what fishery you choose to target keep in mind Trinity Fly Shop is filled to the gills with quality goods and merchandise and inventories bad- to- the bone local fly selections. Established 1982 and because of you, we are your local Source and always here to answer your questions, share our local knowledge and years of expertise to help ensure you and your friends get hooked up and enjoy a quality Trinity experience. Contact TFS, (trinflyguy(at)shasta.com — we enjoy a good chat, not to mention tell it like it is, or isn’t (530)-623-6757), for your next solid connection!

From beginning to end-the Pacific Steelhead is a magnificent creature that remarkably endures varied environments and a complexity of lifelong challenges yet strives to perpetuate and give back.