FIRES – SMOKE – FISH

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

Photo Credit: Courtesy of E.B Duggan

by E.B. Duggan
8-9-2020

The Salmon Red Fires in the Trinity Alps has now started to smoke up the valley. Some days it is just a haze and others days it gets a bit heavier. Here lately it has been a light smoke in the air and not to harmful and clears up sometime in the afternoon. It has yet to get like some of the fires when you can’t see across the river. When it gets like that I say “you can catch your salmon and have it smoked at the same time”. I just hope the Forest Service can get the fires under control and then put them out soon.

Other than the fires it has been unusually hot for this time of year. According to my computer it has us in the going to get into the 100’s again this coming week. The smoke does help cool the temperatures down some in the valley but not like it usually is for this time of year. I think the COVID-19 is creating more trouble than the smoke because some people don’t want to take the chance to go camping because of the COVID. From what I can see there are plenty of people who want to get out and do something and around here it usually means to go camping. The trouble is it is too hot to fish unless you get out at the break of day. 

There have been more positive cases of the COVID – 19 reported on the Hoopa Reservation so I don’t see them opening up the Reservation for non-residents in the near future. This is going to restrict fishing in Weitchpec area as well as the Lower Trinity for the September 1st salmon season opening. One should be able to fish above the Weitchpec Bridge and the Orleans area as that is off the Yurok Reservation. I am not sure if the people will allow non-residents to go down the road to Old Village. You might ask at the Weitchpec store if you are allowed to go down there. 

Junction City Weir: I haven’t received the latest report yet. Julian week 30 ending July 29, 2020; Chinook salmon, 2-jacks, 8- adults, total 10, season total 256; Coho 0; steelhead, ½ lbers 0, adults 6, total 6, season total 51; Brown trout 1, season total 12.

Fishing: Now that the fires and smoke plus the heat it has really been hard to get much fishing in. Kyle Cantenese of Kyle Cantenese Fishing Guide Service (530-739-9673) and his buddy Amando went fishing the other day. They fished the Upper Trinity below Douglas City and were able to hook 2 adult steelhead and lost them at the net. Later in the morning they were able to land and release a couple of steelies closer to their take out. The trouble is they launched their boat at 5:00m and took out at 11:30am. So, you see when I say you have to start fishing at day light if you want to catch fish. Kyle did tell me they chased out some salmon on a couple of the tailouts, but mostly they were fishing for summer steelhead. Remember that the fall salmon season for the Trinity opens on Sept. 1st.  

Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing @ 1,618cfs. This is a decrease of 148cfs from the last week. Iron Gate Dam is releasing 891cfs as of this morning. Fishing has been hard because of the high temperatures, smoke and warm water. The algae is getting worse as we have even more warm days. They have been catching and releasing some trout and summer steelhead in the early mornings, but with his warm water and warm water one has to be really careful when releasing fish back into the river. Above I-5 the fishing for trout and summer steelhead has been fair but again it is an early morning fishery.

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 99% of capacity (an increase of 1%) with inflows of 1,662cfs and releasing 1,694cfs on to Keswick. Shasta Lake is 57% of capacity (a decrease of 1% minus 4ft) with inflows of 4,057cfs and releasing 8,584cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 96% (an increase of 0%) with inflows of 10,695cfs and releasing 10,561cfs into the Sacramento river. Oroville Lake is 51% of capacity (a decrease of 2% minus 6ft) with inflows of 1,635cfs with releases of 7,95cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 54% of capacity (a decrease of 2% minus 3ft) with inflows of 1,474cfs with releases of 3,030cfs into the American river. 

Trinity Lake: The lake is 59ft below the overflow (an increase of 2ft) and 65% of capacity (a decrease of 1%) with  inflows of 197cfs and releasing 2,080cfs into Lewiston Lake with 1,630cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 10,561cfs into the Sacramento River. 

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 97% of capacity (an increase of 6%) and water releases are 450cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of 51.8 degrees, as of 1:00pm today Sunday August 9, 2020. Limekiln Gulch is 1.91ft at 438cfs. Douglas City is 6.53ft with flows of 467cfs. with air temps of 95 and water temperatures of 59.3 degrees. Junction City is 1.96ft at 487cfs. Helena is 8.47ft at 502cfs with water temps of 66.1 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 2.65ft at 502cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 1.92ft at 92cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 545cfs and air is 92 degrees and water at 71.1degrees. Hoopa is 11.27ft at 676cfs and water is 74.2 degrees. 
Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 1,618cfs a decrease 148cfs. 

Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 891cfs. Seiad Valley is 1.83ft at 1,019cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,062cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 761cfs, and the Salmon River is 1.55ft at 181cfs. Orleans is 2.16ft at 942cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 8.18ft at 2,454cfs and water temps are 73.1 degrees. We are getting close to the trigger for the release of cold water from Trinity Lake. Flows for the Smith River at Jedia Smith are 4.84ft with flows of 310cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 11.79ft at N/A cfs.     

Temperatures in the Valley last week had a high of 95 and a low of 55 degrees. Rain for the week was 0.00in with a water year to date of 42.47 inches, with snow in Willow Creek of 1.45in. Forecasts for next week are for several days of triple digits with highs of 104 and lows of 21. The temperatures for next week are expected to reach into triple digits during the week. With high temperatures of 100 or above be sure you want to be sure to stay well hydrated and be sure to have lots sun screen with cold water.


Websites: MyOutdoorBuddy.com, Willowcreekchamber.com,
from Willow Creek, CA Phone 530-629-3554, E-mail [email protected]


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