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Tis the Season to be Steelheading!

Trinity winter wonderland—tempting & unmolested runs-Fair weather anglers need not apply.

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.

Diane Peavler and Darren Victorine set the stage with a chrome arrival.

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.

Winter bead snair, one more removed.

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

Everything you could want on a 6Wt.-Single or Two-Hand.

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.

Don’t let the innocense fool you, 1X!

TFS is open rear round and always here to help. Questions regarding Holiday Gifts-Call-(530) 623-6757

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!!!

IT IS WHAT IT IS (Straight from the Line-ups)

Fishing offers vast avenues of exciting exploration-Beauty and the wild through a wet lens.

A man and his Muddler, veteran TR steelheader & Charo chief— Bob Burke.

A dominating high pressure system parked off the west coast, for the past month, continues to deliver an Indian summer with unseasonably warm, above average, temperatures. The lack of rain, low flows, glassy conditions and, to date, marginal salmon-steelhead returns, have proved challenging for both fish and fisherman. After a promising and cool semi- wet September who would have guessed, mid-day November, TR steelheaders would be wearing suntan lotion, t-shirts and sporting straw hats while running for the shadows.

“Their” world, up close.

The past has demonstrated dry fall seasons are nothing new or rare to California.

And when unfavorable conditions impact fishing, coupled with low salmon-steelhead returns, it’s easy to point fingers. Weather, poor ocean conditions, over estimates, excessive harvest, limited in-stream spawning, or all the above, does anyone really have the answers? They’re STEELHEAD! Keep in mind its mid-November and way too early to evaluate or, case of the impatient, write off 2019 TR Steelhead.

Like Father, like Daughter—Darren and Mariah Victorine exercising talents and fall Trinity trout options.

“Muddler Maddness”- Russ Giuntini with chrome companion.

On a brighter note, for the second year in a row the Klamath received solid steelhead returns. Lower TR weir counts reveal a fair number turned right. Lean numbers throughout the upper TR reach may be an indication fish stalled in the lower canyons, ignoring the calendar, and awaiting desirable flows and conditions. Not to forget Klamath-Trinity steelhead, currently staging in the Pacific, are also awaiting the next flush to make their move. Next round of weather could be the catalyst.

Resembling a native TR summer steelhead- Lewiston Lake perfection.

Despite less than desirable conditions, anglers staying with it and fine tuning their gear, conforming to the demands of spooky steelhead, low glassy H20, and targeting favorite shadowed waters are managing to get a few shots at half-pounders and occasional 3-6 lb. adult steelhead fishing wet and small dry flies during mid-day Blue Wing Olive hatches. Weather forecasters are predicting a change for the upcoming week with the possibilities for a chance of rain. Do the dance. Looking for a low H20, small bug steelhead challenge? Get out and exercise your low water talents and enjoy what is served! See Ya at Hatch Time!

Weeks of a persistent warm high pressure system, low flows and a rich/fertile TR popping aquatics is a primo formula to inspire steelhead to rise to the occasion.

DO I STAY OR DO I GO (No Brainer)

Unsuspecting, a steelhead’s Jackal/Hyde personality is not for everyone and generally weeds out the whiners.

“Is the fishing worth coming up,” is a question often delivered to us, each and every steelhead season that has never been a popular inquiry or made any sense to me personally, especially during the heat of late summer-fall steelhead runs. I’ll just mention maybe it’s better for some, those afraid of the odds and especially number crunchers, to stay home, couch it, take care of chores or sit in the confines of their office; wondering what if or wishing they were fishing. Regardless, good reports, raw reports, or no reports, does it really matter? It’s that magical time of year—its steelhead season!

Most anyone in tune with Oncorhynchus mykiss  dreams and chomps at the bit, waiting for fall-winter steelhead and willing to jump, at the mention of a fresh rack, to chase chrome. Besides, how many rivers, at this time of year, offer opportunities to swing flies for arm-wrenching grabs or skate dry flies, yielding jaw-dropping surface takes, for fish that typically average as long as your arm? Any chance to fish for steelhead can’t be that bad! Primo water qualities, pods of steelhead throughout the system and opportunities available to fuel the stoke, so is it worth it? Na, stay home and clean the garage!

Down the line and, second round, into the backing; Steve Hopkins prevailed.

THE LONG WAY HOME (Steelhead on the Run)

Steelhead live in vastly different, evolving worlds. The Pacific represents some of the largest rearing waters on the planet and temporarily host steelhead populations before returning and transitioning to freshwater rivers.

Trinity Fly Shop is well prepared for this fall-winter and is fat, head to tail with quality goods and merchandise (Locally fashioned effective Flies-Rods-Reels-Lines-Leaders-Terminal items-Waders/Boots/Raingear- NEW line of Soft Wears-Complete line of Fly Tying Hooks/ Materials- Books-Gifts-Guide Service and much more) for your steelhead fly fishing needs. We are here to answer your questions and help you and your friends get pumped and hooked up. NEED HELP/ADVICE or PLACE AN ORDER? Or simply like to Fuel the Stoke Call (530) 623-6757 ALWAYS YOUR LOCAL SOURCE!!!

Nature’s selection process inspires a percentage of smaller, generally 1-2 yr. salt, half-pounders to return early; often providing high quality multiple tight line opportunities; small giants with an attitude.

A steelhead’s life and journey is relentlessly challenged and, as a juvenile, is mysteriously complex, born in fresh waters, migrates to salt as a 3-8” out-migrant, matures and, straight out of the starting gate, driven by tenacious determination to return, spawn and perpetuate natal freshwaters.

The greater majority of TR returning adult steelhead are 2, occasional 3 yr. salt adults. Beauty and innocence are deceptive; a gleaming slab injects an electrifying thrill of a lifetime while challenging the highest quality equipment and the most accomplished angler; mentally and physically.

Fully mature pre- spawn, a steelhead’s body chemistry transitions stunningly colorful appearances.

Ravaged by sexual maturity, feeding, maturing in the salt while eluding predators, the first sniff and taste of freshwater is the beginning or, for many, the end of a new journey filled with unimaginable freshwater challenges.

Elusive, here today-gone tomorrow, ghost-like regiments cautiously enter lower systems while acclimating in their new fresh water environments.

Through the eyes of a steelhead, sadly, they are unable to view, the top shelf, seasonal beauty of home waters. Or can they?

A luring attraction in its own, steelhead migrate through some of the most inviting and inspiring landscapes throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Migrating and navigating the complexity of varied water compositions and velocities is a daunting task; anyone who thinks otherwise— try it yourself!

Strength, power, endurance and remarkably keen senses the Pacific steelhead maintains one of the most respected reputations and ranks at the top on most every anglers list of accomplishments.

They’re coming, big, small, mega numbers or trickling few; makes no difference they’re beyond predictable, accept whatever is delivered and enjoy.

Plan for anything and everything, prepare expect the unexpected and engage full throttle; the 2019 steelhead season is upon us. Solid Grabs!

  • 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!