Trinity River fly fishing guide service in Northern California | Trinity Fly Shop
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ICY HOT (Get Wet for Relief and Stoke)

TR at a healthy 1,000cfs. and grandson Mason Sayre in the sweet spot exercising his 3wt. River Glass.

Summertime Stoke- Temps hitting the century mark, immersed in chilly 52 degree waters and feel’n it swinging Muddlers!

Hard to believe it’s already August and peak of summer. The past week temps hovered around the century mark and, without a doubt, fly fishing and wet wading favorite Trinity waters has been the best heat relief option, as long as you maintain depths below the buoys. Despite the heat, last winter-spring’s 148% snowpack, above average rainfall and prolonged runoff refueled the watershed and transitioned into ideal summer water qualities. Currently local conditions are ripe, TR flowing 450 cfs., colder than norm water temps offsetting mid-day hot temps, summer fish pushing through, resident fish eager and in their happy mode and minimal angling pressure. Looking to beat the heat and tighten up-Get On it!

Water temps are much colder this year, thanks to 148% snowpack, making wet wading a refreshing reprieve from the heat; Seth Russell jazzed and in a cool comfort zone with TR summer steel.

Salmon On the Run-Reduced TR flows and warming water temps in the lower TR has inspired a surge of late spring-summer salmon and steelhead to move into the upper river, North Fork to Lewiston. Crack of dawn salmon anglers, targeting major holding pools with fresh cut baits, plugs and hardware, are scoring on bright kings in the 8-12 lb. range. Current limit is one (1) chinook) per angler. Most hard working anglers are getting their fish. JC weir was recently installed and counts, to date, are encouraging. Speaking of JC—Heads up Anglers (Mon-thru Friday) TR, Sky Ranch (upper JC) downriver, water turbidity levels vary daily. Why? TRRP (Trinity River Restoration Program or as the greater majority of Trinity locals refer TRRP: Trinity Ruin a River Program) is reconstructing the TR, according to “their latest cutting edge science and computer modeling.” Why or when construction will be completed or turbidity levels improve, call the Ivory Tower (530) 623-1800.  Personal advice, anglers plan drift trips accordingly and take advantage of early mornings, before construction work begins and ahead of turbid waters. Filling a major void for salmon-steelhead conventional anglers, Douglas City Store (530) 623-6376 is a great go-to for fishing licenses, terminal salmon-steelhead gear, variety of baits and necessity items. Liam and Krista run a smooth operation and also provide accurate and reliable up to date fishing conditions and reports. Check’em out!

Fly Fishing has always maintained a unique appeal and mystic—next shift, Camron Hartman, clearly demonstrates he is pumped and up for the challenge.

Summer Steel True To Their Reputation-Fly fishers targeting riffles, steamy glides and oxygenated pocket waters, are scoring occasional adult summer steelhead on a variety of fly patterns (Muddlers, Skaters and traditional wet fly patterns such as Hiltons, Burlaps, Pimps, Golden Stones and Breadcrust).TR summer steelhead are a rare gem and rank high on any steelheader’s list of accomplishments. How many can actually say they have caught a true adult California summer steelhead? Despite their relatively small populations and size (3-6 lbs.), when compared to traditional fall-winter steelhead stocks, summer steelhead tend to race through the system, arriving sexually pre-mature summering over 4-6 months prior to spawning late fall- winter. Explosive, slam dunk grabs, jaw-dropping surface takes, high coiled eye-level aerial displays and reel burning runs, summer runs are everything a steelheader wishes to encounter. Recently good friend and avid steelheader, Peter Sakai popped in and indicated he stumbled into good fortune, landing an 8 lb. chinook and 6 lb. steelhead, both on Muddlers and his 4 wt. switch rod before noon. Sweet brace and session! Obviously no need to wait for Nov-Dec..

Eye-Eye—Chad Sayre and TR steelhead that crushed a streamer.

Summer steelhead are scattered throughout the upper reach with greater majority of fish making their move overnight. Take advantage of the early and late cool air and water temps, low lighting conditions. Keep the odds in your favor; move through favorite waters swiftly and thoroughly, covering as much water as possible. Attitude trumps size, treat summer runs with as much respect as their larger fall-winter cousins. So beef tippits (2-3X) whenever possible. Too many stop by the shop, wide-eyed and holding both cheeks; elaborating 4-5X tippits just doesn’t cut it.

Guide Darren Victorine and Nicole Nell reveal Lewiston Lake’s icy tailwaters fire all summer and great option to heat up to cool down.

Trout About- Highlighting another cool wading option, clockwork (5 to 8:30 pm) jumbo #12-14, PMD hatches are lighting up the TR “Fly Only” waters with some exciting mid-summer dry fly opportunities. While the greater majority of activity is smaller half-pounders or residuals, some nice steelhead, up to 5 lbs., are also keying on the emerging duns and challenging the tender touch and tippits. Never a gemmy, these fish are close but far away. In other words, success is awarded to those who take the time to closely observe feeding behavior and rhythm, match the hatch and execute a downstream (spring-creek) drag-free, fly preceding tippit and leader presentation. While the excitement of actively rising fish tends to get the best of most all of us, stay calm be patient, one cast at the right time with the proper drift, is far more effective than thirty hacks. And, more often than not, those who cast the least, score the most; not only quantity but also quality.

Known for its rich and fertile habitats, cornucopia of aquatics, scuds, lampreys, unidentified whatever, Lewiston’s native residents are often a hefty handful.

Quality fishing on Lewiston Lake continues right through the summer as both dragon and damsel fly hatches dominate activity throughout the mid-lower lake. That time of year nymphs become most active, in and around weed beds, thickets and other woody structures, as flows are reduced and the lake water temps warm. While adult dragon and damsels can been seen early afternoons, hovering above the lakes surface, rarely are they consumed. No doubt the abundant large nymphs attract the attention of hungry trout. Fish are also attracted to dragon and damsels erratic quick movements through the water. Both have a hollow cavity through their abdomen and thorax, inhaling water through their mouth and blowing it out their rear, creating an erratic jet propelled movement through the water; would make a cool Steven King movie. That is why sleek profile bodied flies dressed with soft- hackle palmers and marabou tails such as buggers, pimps, blue’s, pineapples are ideal imitations and deadly, when fished in the mid-columns with intermediate sinking lines (clear-camos) and retrieved in a variety of tantalizing speeds and fashions. Stripping leech patterns (mimicking lampreys) and small baitfish (imitating Kokanee fry) is also effective in channel waters, tapering points and flats. There are many ways to approach Louie successfully in the summer months. Float tubing, pontoon and kayaks are very popular, effective and great way to stay cool. Small skiffs and prams are by far most popular for versatility, standing while casting, and maneuverability. When boating during the hot summer months I prefer going barefoot. The icy cold waters of Louie radiate through the bottom of the boat and provide cool comfort, sometimes popsicle toes, that helps offset the heat. However you approach this trout infested favorite, you can be sure Louie’s icy waters will help you forget about the heat; especially when tightening up. Stay Cool and See Ya in the Water!!!

Exciting, a resurgence of glass rods is attracting an increasing number of anglers; especially the next shift. Nobody reinvented the wheel; glass has been around for eons—Mariah Victorine appreciating the slow load tempo and smooth fluid action of an Echo 6wt. Bad Ass Glass.

AVERTING OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS – (Support & Buy Local)

Own world: Life on the gravel bars

It’s been awhile and despite any rumors, we’re still here and, for the most part, operating in full stride. However I should mention it’s odd, one day you wake up and you’re getting aced by a slew of mega who’s who, free this and discounted that on-line retailers. How’d that happen? Guess we simply don’t know any better we shouldn’t have a destination retail fly shop. Just kidding! Your support and appreciation trumps the alternative. Our commitment and passion, helping you and your friends, fuels the stoke and enforces our labors of love. We’re approaching our 37th fall season and there is nothing else we would rather be doing. So keep in mind, as long as we can stretch a line, twist bugs, and provide services and deliver local advice to help you and your friends score and have a great time Trinity Fly Shop will always be Your Local Source!!!

SHAKA-Shad Groms, Mason Sayre and Brantley Fred scoring at “Little Egypt”

SHADDING FOR SANITY & GREAT FUN– is also largely why I’ve been under the radar. For the past five weeks we were busy with our annual private shad camps. Nothing like catching  springtime Central valley rivers dropping and attracting fresh pulses of stripers, shad, spring chinook and steelhead; a final blast of chrome before low flows and the summer doldrums. While shad may not rank as popular as trout or other anadromous fish they have a respected loyal following; most steelheaders are shadders and shadders steelheaders—it’s all about the grab. Often forgiving and regardless single hand, switch, spey, ultra-light conventional gear, shad crush flies, rip and tear and provide opportunity for exciting multiple hook-ups; not to mention there is always the chance of bonus fish sniffing you’re your offerings and heightening the unexpected experience  (A ten pound striper was landed right in front of camp). This year American-Feather-Yuba flows were high (6000-11, 000 cfs.) yet fished well. Runs were solid and shad seemed a bit larger than average (a few hens pressing over 5-6 lbs.). The combination of high flows and fresh slabs challenged the unsuspecting under gunned, accounting for broken rods and parted 0X tippits. Without a doubt, highlighting the 2019 shad season and camps was celebrating 36 years of shad camps with the original (1st) Headers-Hunters camp that included three generations of shadders. What a hoot! Everyone left with ten fingers and toes and as we all have religiously vowed, what happens at shad camps stays at shad camp! I do have the liberty to mention, 2019-Rule #10, Old Shadmen rule C U next year!

BLUE COLLAR PARADISE- After a huge (148%) snowpack prolonged spring-summer runoff, TR flows are finally subsiding, lake capacities have filled, trails into the Trinity Alps wilderness are accessible and local fisheries are in primo shape and firing off.

Kit feeling the thrust through a 1965 Scott glass rod.

Handful of TR Loch leven.

TR Fly Only Waters-Flows dropping 50 cfs. a day and will ultimately drop to 450 cfs. Aug 5…Despite current high flows (1100 cfs.) anglers are scoring fishing the soft edges and mid-lower tailouts with streamers, nymphs, skaters and dead-drifted dries. A mixed bag of PMD’s, Yellow Sallies and Caddis hatches have also been occurring mid-late afternoon through evenings and fish are beginning to key  and scarf emerging- drifting adults. We are elated to witness high flows have purged last winter’s sediment bars, as a result of the CARR fire, purging from Hoadly and Deadwood creeks. It will be interesting to see how this pans out with the next significant rains. Until then the river is groomed and habitats appear promising.

TR Spring Chinook – Salmon season opened July 1 and lead springers are turning the corner and slowly arriving in Lewiston. Currently, best reports coming from Pigeon Point, Junction City and Douglas City. A few spring-summer steelhead have also been reported. Early birds, crack of dawn, get the best shots at spring-summer chrome. Mid-day fish develop heavy eyelids and difficult.

Trinity Lake-Full lake capacities have helped to make 2019 one of the best bass fishing season in many years. Both large and smallmouth bass fishing has been off the hook. North end upper tailings, East Fork, Hay Gulch, Captains Point and rocky points in the lower end around Papoose all good early-late prospects. Heat of the day, target deeper water columns in main channels and river mouths. Late evenings, warming temps have ignited some exciting top water action. Trout fishing has improved and streams (N & E Trinity-Coffee Cr.-Swift-Stuarts Fork) are now fishable in upper regions.

Louie-Louie is also about rainbows!

Lewiston Lake-Reduced flows have helped fish zone in specific habitats and key on prevailing food sources. Although Lewie supports plenty of shore and wade waters a floating devise, for approach and mobility, greatly increases your odds for success. Target points, tapering flats and channel waters with clear camo sinking lines-sink-tips, streamers, leeches and soft hackles. Straight line nymphing has also been effective fishing smaller mayfly nymphs and midge pupas. Burps of Callibaetis activity is still providing some surface, subsurface activity while damsels are just beginning to attract some interest in and around the lower flats and woody structures. DFW has recently planted Lewiston, providing great opportunity for youth and those less fortunate at handicap and designated public access areas. Boat, pram, kayaks-available at Pine Cove marina, Louise will hook you up. Lodging for family and friends, Lakeview Terrace has recently been remodeled and the place for comfort, fun and convenient for stretching a line. Good Grub & Spirits-Lewiston Hotel has also recently been remodeled and sure to pacify your thrust and taste buds.  See Ya in the Shop or on the H20!!!

Shad Camp Head Hunters – 36 years and three generations strong!

FISH STORES TOLD HERE-SOME TRUE!!! (Flashbacks etc.)

Anyone fishing the TR late winter with any regularity has witnessed the beauty and significance of the (Callibaetis) mayfly.

In the event anyone else is blinded by the light, as comedian Brian Regan referenced, “the big yellow one is the sun”. Finally spring! Or is it?

Carr Fire impacts to TR upper reach tributaries. Headwaters demand serious habitat restoration,. Time to turn the keys off TRRP mainstream projects and invest $ and efforts to curb sediment loads in the mainstream.

I realize it has been a while since my last post. Although I’m climbing the ladder a bit more slowly these days, this time, not my excuse. It’s just been one of those prolonged winter-spring transitions that has been nothing short of rowdy and unpredictable. Local waters and fishing have been just as unpredictable; blown out, turbid, bouncing barometric pressure, solid grab one day, humbled the next; conditions literally changed by the day, hour and sometimes by the minute. Factor in the Carr fire impacts to upper river secondary’s (Deadwood, Hoadley, Grass Valley) purging heavy sediment loads into the mainstream, gut instincts led you to believe the river was out for the year. On that note, it was hard to get motivated or inspired about anything that was truly anyone’s guess.

Buzzer Beater! TR guide, Darren Victorine, landed his last steelhead, preciously at the sound of the Lewiston Dam alarm flushing TR. The innocent native hen pounced a T-Bone!

I will mention those willing to risk it and lucky enough to score fishable conditions, did well, not numbers, but tightening up on kelts and a good number of fresh run late winter natives. And, while weeks of overcast rain and balmy conditions might have been gloomy and depressing for some, it prolonged generations of Callibaetis (mayfly) and Calineuria (stonefly) hatches that triggered dependable dry opportunities and helped refuel the stoke. A final added bonus, April 1 TR “Fly Only” waters reopened and fired off one of the better openers in years. Solid mid-day dry action with an added spice of exciting meat and potatoes (streamer) fishing yielding occasional late winter slabs;  a great, totally unexpected, highlight to wrap up the 2018-2019 steelhead seasons.

Over 40 inches of rainfall, 160% plus average snowpack, headwaters flowing full steam and Trinity lake capacity pushing 90%“what does all this mean? Its Goanna blow captain, goanna blow! April 14 it did. The Bureau allocated a wet water year (701,000 acre ft.) and increased TR flows that will peak 10900 cfs. April 29. Odd, above average rainfall and record snowpack, many are questioning why wasn’t the TR dealt an extreme wet (815,000) allocation? Go figure. Should also mention we dodged a bullet. Remarkably TR headwaters are clear and surprisingly were not severely impacted by last winter’s rage.  Early 2018 winter storms were cold, dumping snow in the Alps and lower levels, minimizing runoff, in Trinity-Lewiston Lakes. Never have I observed this amount of rainfall and snowpack with minimal impacts to headwaters. (Early 70’s- 80’s-1997 entire TR watershed was turbid for the year). To date, spring runoff has not even begun and with California getting

hosed, head to tail, this fall-winter could prove interesting, possibly okole squeezer, with lakes potentially supporting healthy, above average, carryover capacities. It’s been a while since the last round of multi-year wet cycles.

Without a doubt high flows are a blessing and will benefit habitats, wildlife and hopefully help set the stage for rebounding anadromous fish stocks.  The latest TMC Flow Schedule (http://www.trrp.net/restoration/flows/current) indicates TR flows will remain high and unfishable through much of June and into July. High water is everywhere and not going away anytime soon, get used to it. For those wanting to keep in tune with their gear and need a spring Trinity fix, consider the following local options.

Springtime is always a popular season for spiny-rays and fly fishers. Why, they pull and crush flies!

TRINITY–RUTH LAKES- Large-smallmouth bass fishing fires all spring-early summer; with this year’s above average snowpack/runoff possibly all summer and into early fall. Opportunities for jumbo buckets and smallies, pre-spawn grab happening NOW. Springtime warming temps key. Although plenty of shore fishing available, no doubt, boat, pram, pontoon, tube gives you the edge.

Trinity Lake rivermouth/boca fishing for trout and landlocked steelhead has always been a personal favorite. The upper TR is open year-round; other streams (East Fork-Stuarts Fork-Swift Cr.-Papoose) do not open until general trout opener April 27 (Sat.). Scenery is epic and fishing the mix with a variety of styles, can be very rewarding. Seldom numbers, however the quality of fish is high caliber. Trout, bass and landlocked salmon stage and graze these waters. Limited wade fishing available and floating devise offers mobility that helps increase the odds. Both lakes offer excellent spring-summer camping options.

Classic Lewiston lake specimen-Flawless with an attitude.

LEWISTON LAKE- Cold, rich and fertile tailwater supporting biggins! A Bureau design, strictly for power and water diversion to CVP, Lewie-Lewie resembles a large spring creek, flowing much of the year based upon water diversions, and is a popular tailwater to many fly fishers. It’s rich and fertile habitats are grossly infected with mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, midge, damsels, dragons, scuds, aquatic wasp, lampreys, you name it and they probably exist and consumed by bows, occasional browns and landlocked salmon. Early spring “Aquatic Wasp” (Hymenoptera) steal the show. Warming spring temps activate generation “float-ups” that get the attention of every double-digit fish and lite up the lower flats and protected bays off main channels. Lewie fishes year-round, supports fishing opportunities for all anglers, including handy-cap access, and offers excellent camping facilities. Primo lodging is available at Lakeview Terrace (New cool owners- remodeled cabins) and boat rentals, tackle, good advice and fun people/owners (Matt-Louise) available at Pine Cove marina.

GRASS VALLEY LAKE- (requires a 45 minute hike)-Nestled atop Buckhorn summit and only 10 minutes from Trinity Fly Shop, this 40 acre gem is popular for float tubers seeking solitude, quality fishing and scenic surrounds. GV supports a healthy population of small (8-14”- occasionally larger) resident and land-locked steelhead willing to accept a variety of offerings; nymphs, dries and most popular, leeches- streamers- damsels fished deep and on the strip. Semi-wilderness walk on the wild side and should fish well into mid-summer this year.

Sad but true—Tim and Joy Brady closed TRINITY OUTDOORS. An iconic Weaverville based sporting goods store that filled a void with quality goods and services for over 30 years. A real loss to all outdoor enthusiasts. Wonder if on line sporting good sources deliver to campgrounds or drop ship wilderness areas?

Does any of the above sound familiar? Well, if so, you know Trinity well. High water and spring conditions dictate this diverse and exciting lineup. All are quality fisheries, much more than simple options, and await those willing to step out of the box and explore exciting new opportunities. Keep in mind, Trinity Fly Shop (530-623-6757.  www.trinityflyshop.com ) is your local source. We not only have the goods to help you score, our knowledgeable staff is always available to answer your questions, provide helpful advice and ensure your Trinity experiences are fun and memorable. Enjoy The Spring and See Ya On The Water!

Mike Callan

Sandy Noyes

Steve Hopkins

Jeff Rhodes

Andy Laursen

WHO-WHAT-WHEN-WHERE & WHY (TR Fall Steelhead Status)

“Native Beauty”- Glen Stanley catch/photo

Oregon steelheader, Chad Marshall, stepped out of the box and skated up this beautiful native hen.

There seems to be a lot of mixed steelheading chatter going around this fall from anglers and surprisingly a few guides indicating the TR has not produced up their expectations. Is a river supposed to consistently produce? Are steelhead created to bite “your” fly? Does level of accomplishment, luck or timing have anything to do with fishing success? Has anyone ever smelled a skunk or add a goose egg to the collection? Granted, to date, the 2018 steelhead numbers are down and the past couple months of zero rainfall and boney low flows have not been the most favorable conditions for fish and fisherman. Yet TR steelhead opportunities are available and have brought smiles to many. So why sour grapes?

Exercising Fall Trinity options, Andy Laursen has every reason to smile.

Mike Callan does what Mike Callan loves.

Over the years, it has been our experience tough conditions and fishing tends to bring out the best and worst. The best, those who get it, understand rewards are sweeter when conditions and fishing are challenging therefore willing to accept and appreciate what is served, go the extra mile, invest additional time and effort to do whatever it takes to score while enjoying the pursuit and quality time on the water. The worst, fortunately a minority, blinded by high yield, unrealistic expectations and simply naïve. The legendary Pacific Steelhead is often referred to by many as the ultimate challenge and anyone who feels they can select a day or two on the calendar and annually score needs to have their head examined.

Following suit, Conner Laursen with one of many healthy- hefties.

How do I feel about 2018 fall runs? Based upon the past three months guiding and shop feedback, it has been pretty much a typical bitter sweet steelhead season with an added touch of weirdness. Typical in that anglers fortunate to be at the right place at the right time scored. Weird because unseasonably high flows, 750-800cfs. ( Carr Powerhouse impacted) late July thru mid-Sept., activated early (August) promising returns, catching the greater majority by surprise. The lead edge led many believing above average TR runs were consistent with neighboring Klamath River that fired early as well. Mid-Sept. flows were throttled down and by October reduced to 300cfs.; oddly fish numbers, movements and fishing slowed. Chinook returns appeared promising however their numbers dropped as well. Coho, all but nonexistent? Drought like conditions settled in for the past two months, TR secondaries have all but dried up, water temperatures continue to drop (hovering 41-44 degrees) fish movements continue to slow yet a few steelhead are willing to grab; go figure.

Dark shadows are often great go- to waters when fish are bashful – low flows. Ashland angler, Bill Morrish, taking advantage and he did, as usual score.

Bottom line we need rain badly to snuff the fire season and the TR needs rain to refuel secondaries, raise water temps and reboot fish movements. On most everyone’s mind, difficult to wrap you head around potential impacts, major sediments and ash infiltration into the Trinity watershed, as a result of the Carr fire; time will tell. There have been some positive reports fish are locked up in lower canyons, Pecwan (Klamath) and Weitchpec, Burnt Ranch (Trinity). It is still early and TR traditional late fall-winter stocks should begin to make their move with the next freshet. Be ready to get with it, whiners stay home!!! Enjoy the HolidaysSolid Grabs!!!

Joe Powers testing hoop strength and thumbs up. Guide D. Victorine photo

  • Shad Camp 2016
  • Shad are in!
  • Here's to another great shad year!
  • 2016 Shad mug
  • Steve Hopkins and friend
  • Scott Watson with a dandy
  • Shad on!