Wet-Wild-and Winter- Runs (Welcome Dec. & H2O)

Trinity Steelhead

Andrew Hoodenpyle & pup hefts a full spread of TR dream Steel

Steelhead flies

Hardcore, creative and full dress—sure to entice winter trouble

You knew it wouldn’t last forever; the 2014 prolonged unseasonably mild and beautiful fall season recently got flushed. December arrived, packing a potent punch of much needed rainfall, to the entire west coast. Most all watersheds, statewide, have recently received some impressive rainfall and coastal salmon-steelhead rivers are once again supporting healthy flows and enticing fresh arrivals. And if you have faith in forecasters, above average rainfall, for all of California, is predicted throughout the entire month. With months of less than optimistic weather predictions, early December’s wet and wild has surprised many and if recent storms are any indication what we may be in for — Bring it on!

Ask anyone who shared the Trinity River stoke this past Sept-Oct-Nov., you could not script a better fall season than 2014; beauty, abundant wildlife, solid Chinook-coho runs, bulk half-pounder craziness, healthy early adult steelhead returns, pleasantly mild day/night temperatures and a dry line steelheader’s dream for primo water temperatures (49-53 degrees) for skating and greased lining. It has been several years since we have witnessed such primo conditions formulate months of quality opportunities throughout the system; most everyone willing to dig’m out scored. Refreshing and even comforting to witness the TR healthy and very much alive; no doubt the 2014 fall will long be remembered and heavy in the minds of those fortunate to engage and enjoy.

Fresh Steelhead

Fresh shades of steel and feel’n unreal-Huey do’n it

Current wet weather and river fluctuations have flushed the system, refueling secondary rivers and tributaries and inspiring new native arrivals; possibly representing TR lead winter runs. To date, bright fish have been caught, down low, Willow Creek, Hawkens Bar and as far up as Douglas City with the greater majority burping up from Junction City and the North Fork. These chrome slabs represent some of the largest steelhead of all TR runs and most of you are already aware they can be some of the most difficult to catch. In other words if you are not a cold weather fan and or measure your fly fishing experiences number crunching, these fish are not for you.

Fly reels

He who hesitates is often victim of rising colored waters & “Should have been here yesterday”—Organized, ready to pac/flex

Devoted winter steelheaders are well in tune and know the drill; windows of opportunity are brief yet willing to accept the challenges of cold air and water temperatures, high volumes of water, constant river fluctuations, sporadic migrations, sparse concentrations, sensitive salt-matured adults and accepting unpredictable conditions at best. So why should anyone invest time and effort for a fish so difficult to catch? Because they exist, returning to extraordinary watersheds and surrounds, take a fly and are rare and provide a unique opportunity for anglers to up their A-game and raise the roof; satisfy their desires to achieve a higher level of steelheading accomplishment.

Unlike summer- fall steelheading, there can be a lot of down time throughout winter and prolonged undesirable conditions can often wither away any hopes for opportunity and tight line success. Winter steelheaders, especially coastal anglers, are a rare and tough breed, callused and all but second skinned; willing to accept the bitter with the sweet and somehow find a way to mentally muscle through periods of excessive wet, cold and undesirable conditions. Here are a few ways that may help you maintain a positive attitude, increase your winter steelheading faith and possibly help to increase your odds for success. Prep and stay well prepared for the opportunity. Have all fishing gear (waders-raingear-layered clothing-rods/reels/lines etc.) prepped, easily packed and ready to go. He, who hesitates, even just a day or two, may be victim of rising colored waters and “should have been here yesterday.” Take advantage of down time and use it wisely; tie flies and maintain a well-rounded stash (big-small-bright-dark-weighted-unweight) to cover varied water conditions. Also, tie leaders and stock inventories for proper turn-over with a variety of rods/lines/flies. Closely inspect, re-tie and repair, if necessary, butt sections, backing-to-line connections and all welded loops on ALL fly lines. Lube fly reels/drag systems and inventory and organize fly lines to compliment rods and diversity of water compositions and heights. Grabs are far and few between, it’s painful to be on the losing end because equipment failure; keep the odds in your favor— getter done. Bank fishing time and maintain flexibility. Keep a watchful eye on the weather and be in tune with river conditions, heights, color, and maintain contact with reliable sources for current updated conditions; be ready to jump.

Trinity Steel

Raider Russ taking out his aggressions on a chrome win

Like an unsuspecting arm-wrenching grab, quality winter steelheading opportunities are hard to come by and generally occur when you least expect it. When favorable conditions ripen, keep in mind, you are only half way to winter steelheading success. What? Don’t forget hooking and landing a slab is largely related to your angling talents, abilities, attitude, faith, perseverance, feel’n the mana and plenty of winter steelheading mo-jo couldn’t hurt. Holiday Cheers for H20, fresh Winter arrivals and solid grabs!

Trinity River scenery

When a winter high pressure settles in, flows drop and opportunities ripen—get on it!