What Happened to The Fish- They Are Moving!

Trinity River - Willow Creek Weir - Willow Creek, CA (Humboldt County)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of E.B Duggan

by E.B. Duggan
11-23-2019

We have a small weather depression last week that brought a few showers. Enough to make the ground wet! The good part was that the Hoopa Weir was removed and the weather depression started the fish down in Hoopa to start moving up river. In one week’s, time, many of the fish that had been held up below the Hoopa weir made their way past Willow Creek and up into the Burnt Ranch Canyon. This is good news for the Lewiston, Steel Bridge, Poker Bar and Douglas City fishers as they will start to have fresh steelhead in the upper sections of river. We still need to have three inches or so of rain in a short period of about a week to get the fish holding up down near the mouth of the Trinity to start to move up the river. We are way past the normal time of the salmon and steelhead to be moving up the Trinity. It looks like the area will have some light rain or maybe some showers in the next week, but there are no big rain events in the near future. 

I have received several emails about the Hoopa Weir and how they believe there should be some type of oversight, accountability and/or cooperation with stakeholders. Yes, the Tribes are allotted a quota of salmon/fish to harvest for subsistence and livelihood but we the rest of the public, whether it be ocean or in-river fishing should be allowed to harvest their quota of salmon/fish also. Don’t forget that all of us must allow for the necessary natural spawning escapement within the rivers in order to sustain the fishery.

The Upper Klamath has seen a very good return this year for both salmon and steelhead and the fishing has shown that. Water releases on the Klamath this year has been very good because the return has shown “fish need water”. If we are to sustain the fishery on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers, we must have cooperation amongst ALL stakeholders if we are to have any type future for the fishery. It easy to look at the moment and be greedy but to have a fishery we have to look to the future as well. My short time here (45yrs) I have seen one river fishery die and another two dying, with no concern as to what to do for the future of the rivers.   

Trinity River Hatchery: Julian week 46 ending Nov. 18; Fall Chinook, 158-jacks, 392-adults, total 550, season total 890; Coho, 2-jacks, 29- adults, total 31, season total 47; steelhead, 13, total 13 ,season total 21.

Willow Creek Weir counts: Julian week 46 ending Nov. 18; Fall Chinook salmon, 16-jacks, 37-adults, total 53, season totals 1,572; Coho salmon, 0-jacks, 26-adults, total 26, season total 150; steelhead, 0-1/2-pounders, 17-adults, total 17, season total 726. 

Fishing: The Trinity is still running very low for this time of the year. The water has been cold and very clear. In order to hook any fish, you have to use stealth in your presentations. This past week it has been hard to find fishermen working the lower river and I believe it has been because of the weather depression that caused the fish to start moving up the river and getting ready to spawn. The upper river has not been much better. There are fishermen being able to hook some nice steelhead up to 10 pounds but not a lot. I am hoping for enough rain over the Thanksgiving Holidays (not a very popular wish) to start fish to move up the rivers. 

Trinity River Redds survey: Julia week 45 week ending Nov. 11; survey sections 01- 08 Lewiston to Helena 122; 08 – 10 Big Bar to Burnt Ranch 60 total 182; total reach on Trinity River Lewiston to Weitchpec 1,369 Redds surveyed.      Upper Klamath fish video counts: Julian week 45 ending Nov. 11, (no report) Bogus Creek, Chinook salmon -20, total 1,015; Coho 0, total 4; Scott River, Chinook salmon 13, total 1,382, Coho 4; Shasta River, Chinook salmon 11, total 5,752, Coho 1 total 5. 

Mid-Klamath: The Klamath at Weitchpec is flowing about 2,533cfs. Fishing below Orleans is still slow.  Up river, Happy Camp to I-5 there is better fishing. Above I-5 the BITE IS HOT for trout and steelhead!

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 85% of capacity (a decrease of 0%) with inflows of 537cfs and releasing 473cfs on to Keswick and the Sacramento River. Shasta is 71% of capacity (a decrease of 0% minus 0ft) with inflows of 3,496cfs and releasing 4,375cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 91% (a decrease of 1%) with inflows of 4,978cfs and releasing 4,997cfs into the Sacramento river. Oroville Lake is 55% of capacity (a decrease of 0% minus 2ft) with inflows of 2,0311cfs with releases of 2,633cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 53% of capacity (a decrease of 2% minus 2ft) with inflows of 1,588cfs with releases of 2,918cfs into the American river.

Trinity Lake: The lake is 33ft below the overflow (an increase of 0ft) and 79% of capacity (a decrease of 0%) and inflows are 147cfs and releasing 859cfs into Lewiston Lake with 560cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 4,997cfs into the Sacramento River. 

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 98% of capacity (an increase of 6%) and water releases are 293cfs with water temperatures of 43.6 degrees, as of 11:00am today Saturday November 23, 2019. Limekiln Gulch is 4.72ft at 327cfs. Douglas City is 6.28ft and flows of 325cfs. with air temps of 43 water temperatures of 43.2 degrees. Junction City is 1.69ft at 373cfs. Helena is 8.10ft at 349cfs with water temps of 42.4 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 2.41ft at 419cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 2.19ft at 91cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 510cfs and air is 42 degrees and water at 44.5 degrees. Hoopa is 11.24ft at 649cfs and water is 46.5 degrees. (only an increase of 1.8) Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath are estimated to be 2,533cfs. 

Klamath: Iron Gate is releasing 1,065cfs. Seiad Valley is 2.35ft at 1,360cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,410cfs, the Salmon River is 1.88ft at 205cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 1,694cfs. Orleans is 2.75ft at 1,884cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 8.66ft at 2,977cfs and water temps are 48.6 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jedia Smith is 4.77ft with flows of 247cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 11.71ft at N/A cfs.

Temperatures in the Valley last week had a high of 68 and a low of 33. Rain for the week was 0.04in with a water year to date of 2.45 inches, with snow of 0.0in. in the valley to date. Forecasts for next week are for temperatures of highs of 69 and lows of 29 with some future scattered showers in the coming week. It looks like it might be getting cold in the early mornings if temperatures get down to 29 degrees so I would come prepared to see morning ice and possible warming in the afternoons. If we are to see those temps, I would expect the fish to be lethargic in the mornings and ready to eat later in the day. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and stay warm!   

Good Fish’en and Good Luck but remember; “keep your tip up with a tight line lands fish”


Websites: MyOutdoorBuddy.com, Willowcreekchamber.com,
from Willow Creek, CA Phone 530-629-3554, E-mail yen2fish@yahoo.com


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