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 trinflyguy@shasta.com 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!

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!

Challenging Currents (2019-Hopes, Dreams, Opportunities & Fresh Arrivals)

Hey Honey-Its Feb, height of Steelhead Season, I’m calling in sick tomorrow and don’t hold dinner!

After closing the 2018 books Pat and I took a month off for some quality family time and long needed R&R. To put it mildly, last year the cookie didn’t crumble our way. The Carr fire was too close for comfort. Locking our house, TFS and evacuating, Pat and I thought the Carr might be the “one.” Just when you thought, some close friends passed away; a rough year for many. Our friends left us with great memories and luckily we survived the deadliest and most destructive fire season in California. We are fortunate and count our blessings.

Photo #1: Tim Regan-Bukanza
Photo #2: Mark Noble-Greased Line
Photo #3: Norm Christensen-North Coast

Hard to believe it is early Feb. and in the heat of the 2018-2019 steelhead runs. How time flies while having fun chasing steel. Each and every steelhead season is a new chapter in a new edition; never know what Ma Nature is going to deliver. The 2018-2019 TR runs have spawned mixed reviews; some good, some great, and the raw, whiners should to keep to themselves. Our take, other than the lower Klamath stealing the fall limelight, 2018-2019 have not really been bang-up years on any west coast steelhead river. Seems to be pretty much straight across the board—Hook a slab, consider yourself lucky.

Lewiston Lake supports steelhead-sized bows that are much more than an option to a blown steelhead river.

Why is anyone’s guess? Keep in mind, current steelhead numbers are largely related to ocean and instream conditions years ago as well as harvest and predation impacts. The greater majority of TR adults returning this year represent (2-3 yr.) stocks after the five year drought (2011-2017) that severely impacted west coast watersheds and all anadromous fish stocks. What may be a positive glimmer, a surprisingly high number of half-pounders, as well as jack salmon, returned this year in a number of rivers. The high percentage of smaller fish may very well represent quality conditions and rebounding stocks for 2019-2020.

Sure, years past, the TR has produced larger returns. Most any long term TR steelheader remembers the mid-90’s mega hatchery saturation that put the TR on the cover of every angling periodical and website and most anyone that could hold a rod or say fish caught fish. Unfortunately excessive returning hatchery stocks, including hymerfidates that baffled hatchery technicians, negatively impacted “native” stocks. The past clearly demonstrated, in the case for successfully managing native stocks, more was not better and also large returns attract large numbers of anglers, creating increased pressure on both river and fish; many would agree, diminishing steelheading experiences. On the other hand, we’ve also experienced extremely low returns. Referencing 1983 personal log books, oddly we never caught or recorded what I would consider a “true” (3’bs.-larger) TR adult steelhead the entire fall-winter; a vicious cycle that produced few native or hatchery adults.  And some of you think this season is challenging?

Low numbers, high numbers, who really gives a shit? It only takes one at the right place at the right time. Steelheading is about opportunity and fun!  And since mid-August, past five months, the TR continues to serve up intermittent pulses of fall-winter runs and provide fun quality steelheading; beauty, challenging fishing, minimal pressure and enough opportunities to keep many guessing or grinning forever. Want Fun – Get Out There!!!

Kurt Reichermeier has every reason to smile after landing this TR winter native.