Liquid Pulse and Hydraulic Reactions (Salmon-Steel feel the Flow)

Full Stretch

High Water-Full Stretch-Single Shot


Skate’n Scott–one of four on top

Like the air we breathe, water is without a doubt the single most important ingredient to healthy fisheries and ecosystems. Unquestionably it is the life blood and major composition of lakes, streams and rivers. Without it nothing, watersheds, fisheries, plant life, aquatics, wildlife and people could not survive. Although California is in the heat of one of the worst droughts on record and a critically dry year flow was allocated to the Trinity River, we recently witnessed two rare and major Trinity River water releases that, to date, have had positive impacts upon local fisheries.

Mid-late August both the Klamath and Trinity River flows were extremely low and water temperatures dangerously high for all anadromous fish. Flows were augmented, to 900cfs. for two weeks, to prevent fish mortality. Shortly after, early September, emergency T.R. flows were increased (from 450 cfs. up to 3,400cfs.) to avert fish kills in the Lower Klamath-Trinity Rivers; Bureau of Reclamation responding to the discovery of an Ich parasite infection in Chinook salmon in the lower Klamath River and request of the Yurok and Hoopa Valley tribes. The same Ich parasite led to a massive fish die off in September 2002 in the lower Klamath River. Over 68, 000 salmon perished in the largest adult salmon die off in U.S. history. Frightening to consider the consequences if flows were not released. Hats off to the tribes, BOR and hopefully the additional flows were in time to minimize any negative impacts.

How did the unseasonably high flows impact Trinity salmon, steelhead and trout fishing?

Tight lines

Tight lines- Shattered mirrors & Rare steelheading solitude

Chinook-Coho Flush – Squirt additional water down the river and they will come. The bulk of the fall Chinook salmon run took advantage of the high water releases and literally raced through the lower river and settled in Junction City down through the mid-river canyons. Now that flows have subsided, 450 cfs., conventional anglers, pitching hardware and drifting baits, have been experiencing one of the better salmon runs in years, hooking up with some heavyweights pressing up to 26 lbs.. Complementing the adult Chinook have also been an interesting high number of smaller jacks, representing quality ocean conditions and hope for solid runs next year. Coho salmon are currently jetting through the lower system in full force with the lead edge already appearing in Cedar Flat. Hands off the merchandise; remember all Coho are protected and cannot be targeted or harvested. What about hatchery Coho? Same, zero harvest! Encouraging witnessing such a strong salmon rebound after last year’s discouraging returns, an unexpected Ma Nature royal salmon flush.

Heads of Cold Steel – A flurry of late summer-early fall adult steelhead also arrived with high flows and provided some quality fly fishing opportunities. Once flows settled, early season anglers discovered brief pockets of activity, generally all or nothing action, with most anglers scoring about a fish a day; a few others are still wearing smiles of multiple success. What first appeared to be a very promising early season was short lived as runs bolted through; lead adults have already arrived at the Lewiston hatchery—mos. ahead of spawning! Current reduced flows have slowed steelhead runs and encouraged fish to stage in deep canyon waters. However, along with lower river Coho regiments, fair to good numbers of half-pounders and occasional adult steelhead are currently filtering through the lower system, Weitchpec, Willow Creek, Hawkins Bar, all experiencing movements and good bets. Bottom line, salmon-steelhead are currently scattered, head to tail, throughout the entire Trinity system and available to those willing to dig’em out.


Wa. angler, Don Frogner, migrates south for his fall steelheading fix & gets it done

Lewiston Trout About – High flow releases from Trinity Lake, through Lewiston Lake, flushed moss and algae blooms and inspired major fish migrations from the lower lake. Channel waters have been scrubbed, rock bottoms exposed and the arena is set for the fall-winter trout spawning runs. An unfortunate kokanee salmon kill occurred as a result of a Trinity Dam release site. There was one positive impact from the kokanee kill; drifting and injured kokanee fed the hogs in the lake, creating some very exciting streamer fishing, as well as the local wildlife. Nightly bear viewing, munching on the kokanee, was absolutely mind-boggling and well worth the effort of hanging out till dusk. Flows have been reduced, no kokanee kill and fishing has been nothing short of exceptional and should remain in full gear throughout the fall-winter seasons.

Investing forty-four years fishing the Trinity River, I have never experienced 3400cfs. water flows in late August-early September. Yes, flows of this volume are unusual and a bit odd, yet at the same time, I also find exciting. What happens or doesn’t happen is anyone’s guess. Maybe this is the very beginning of record salmon-steelhead returns. Maybe high waters inspired early migrations and runs are winding down, what you see is what you get; although I strongly doubt it. From what I have witnessed, first hand, the unseasonably high flow releases have already proved to be a positive blessing, especially during one of the worst droughts in history and many salmon-steelhead river flows are not reaching the Pacific. Welcome the 2014 salmon-steelhead runs and enjoy the moment!!!

Steelhead release

Now you see’m-Now you don’t—Here today-Gone tomorrow—Welcome the 2014 runs!!!