Autumn- Spring (Huh?)

The Swing

Matt Leong in the glass and serving up a long one

Fall Steelhead

Candy strip and hunk-a-hunk of burning power.

No rain since September, temps are ten- fifteen degrees above normal (78 degrees on the shop deck as of this post), extended fire season, headwater lakes have been drained, the Trinity R. is low (it’s bones are exposed and rocks polished with aluminum), spring birds (Meadowlarks, killdeers, Dove, Humming birds)are sounding off and hanging around, frogs croaking, deer plentiful and grazing on whatever is green, bear are eluding hibernation and still scavenging along the river corridor, spring aquatics (Tricos/Beatis/Callibeatis) are popping and resident trout and steelhead are taking advantage of the emerging bon-bons. What first appeared to be an abnormally wet and wild fall-winter has shifted into reverse, the weather gods are delivering northern California’s driest fall on record. Why? Where are we headed and what does all this mean?

Who knows? It’s simply weird and it appears little rain is forecasted for anytime soon. But hey, don’t toss out that foul weather gear/clothing or push the panic button just yet. Keep in mind, it is only mid-November and as a 31 yr. Trinity county resident and eternal steelhead optimist, the past has proven there is still plenty of time to get hosed. We learned early on, 1982 it rained Nov. 9 and I didn’t get back on the river until July 26. Be careful what you wish for.

Trinity River Steelhead

Low flows-Indian summer triggers the bugs. Mike Callan skates up another.

So what to do? Where can one go stretch for steel? Before wading in, try to understand the big picture. Late August early September a major sandbar off the mouth of the Klamath R. retarded both salmon and steelhead runs for weeks. Only during the highest tides could the river breech the bar allowing fish into the system. The 2013 steelhead runs are largely a reflection of how and when they entered the Klamath/Trinity systems. True to their “ghost of the coast” nature, prolonged dry weather, low flows and angling pressure has also influenced current fish concentrations to favor deep staging waters and slowly filter through the system early and late, keeping many guessing; a survival mode and attempt to complete and fulfill the drive to preserve the magic.

There are glimmers of stoke. Steelhead are scattered throughout the entire Trinity system, head to tail, and available to those willing to adapt and conform. Anglers just need to remind their self, these conditions are abnormal and sensitive. Stealth, persistence, proper water selection, longer leaders (10-12 ft.), scaling down tippits (min. 4x-max. 2X), and flies (#6-8-10-12’s traditional wets/dries-#10-12-14-16’s straight line nymphing), and lifting easy is the key for low water steelheading success. Nobody said it would be easy.

Lewiston Lake Rainbow

Lewiston Lake is much more than an option-Dick Burton (aka. the instigator) & steelhead size Lewie bow.

For those needing a confidence builder and much more than an option, Lewiston Lake has been firing off and generous to most anyone giving it a chance. Throughout fall-winter, major fish pods migrate up from the lower lake for spawning. This is the time of year you have 70% of the trout populations utilizing 30% of the lake. Leeching with clear-camo intermediate lines and hatch matching midge and brief Callibaetis hatches will tempt their taste buds and is sure to roll their eyes. Boating, tubing and wading are all effective. In fact, it is wise for anyone visiting Trinity throughout the fall-winter season to include a floating device. More times than not you’ll be glad you did.

As long as we remain in the grasp of these dry high pressure systems— Enjoy it! How many more fall steelhead seasons will you be able to experience? Besides, ask yourself, when was the last time you slapped on SPF 30 suntan lotions, able to wear t-shirts mid-day Nov. and target late summer/fall steelhead with lightweight rods and trout-like methods. It’s bizarre, beautiful, soothingly comfortable and ultimately challenging; bringing out the very best in low-water steelhead wizards. Got Autumn-Spring fever? You know the cure. Get with it!!!

Tight Lines

The love-hate affair & sure they aren’t for everyone. But when you connect-OH feel the power-Skinny hanging on!