Nothing like the first snow of the year to refuel the steelhead stoke and entice a fresh rotation; not to mention prime us for winter and elevate holiday spirits. A real head spin and adjustment. After months of abnormally dry, above average temperatures to unseasonably cold snowfall, the first significant storm of the fall season pounded NorCal and surprisingly dumped a couple feet of snow in the Trinity Alps and lowlands. The cold blast proved a blessing; welcome relief from another scary fire season and bumping TR flows and motivating steelhead movements.
Runoff was short and sweet, bumping up lower TR, Weitchpec-Willow Cr. 400 cfs. and mid-canyon waters, Cedar Flat, Del Loma, Big Flat, a couple hundred cfs. and helped kick off late fall-early winter fishing. Over all steelhead fishing has improved, not numbers, but quality. A new pulse of bright fall natives, averaging 3-6 lbs., and occasional half-pounder, shifted gears and now scattered throughout the system. Primarily natives, the fresh arrivals may very well represent secondary or tributary native stocks awaiting the next flush to ascend natal waters. Size is deceptive, new arrivals are bright explosive hotties eager to rip and tear; everything you want on a 6 wt.. Why this year’s smaller than average size trend or, to date, low hatchery numbers are anyone’s guess. Perhaps the next flush will entice traditional larger winter stocks.
Current TR flows are gin tonic clear, water temps have dropped to the low 40’s and fish spooky. Stealth is synonymous with current low flows and glassy conditions. And those exercising stealthy approach, along with adjusting mental expectations, appropriate gear and flies to compliment runs, waters and conditions are rewarded. (#6-8)- Mr. Pimps, Rocks, Olive Breadcrusts, Nuggets, Chappies and marabou Articulated Leeches in black, olive, and wine are first flavors of choice for swing/traditional fishing when fished on floating lines or multi-tips with intermediate heads. Straight line nymphing (#12-14-16) Robo nymphs, Diablos, Cream Dreams, Olive
Tidbits, Copper Red-Blu-Grn Jons, beads-glow-bugs hinged off (#4-6-8—10) Black-Brown-Olive Rubber-legs have all produced. Mid-day, peak air-h20 temps, Blue-Wing Olive hatches continue to inspire both half-pounders and occasional adult steelhead to graze on the surface. Anglers targeting the upper reach, JC-Lewiston, should be prepared with favorite 5-6 wt., dinky dries (#16-18- BWO—Hi-vis Parachutes-Pull-Overs-Quill Bodies-Para-Tilts) long leaders and tender (4-5X) tippits for some rare eye-opening surface opportunities. Hatches should continue until the next major flush. Desiring big fish, small dry fun?
Typical of fishing reports, by the time this is posted, it won’t make any sense as another major storm is forecasted to blast NorCal with significant rain and snow.
On that note, the Pacific storm door appears to be open and it’s that time of year anyone planning a trip north, keep a close eye on current weather and river flows. Trinity Fly Shop (530-623-6757) is your trusted local source for current, tell it like it is or isn’t, conditions and fishing reports as well as here to answer your questions and help you and your friends get hooked up. How to slow the train down, like the blink of an eye, another year has passed. Because of you and your friends remarkably we survived another year. We thank you all for your continued loyal support. Best for the Holidays & 2020 -Tis the Season to be Steelheading!!!