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!
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!
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..
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.
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.
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!!!