Will Snow Pack Increase Enough For Spring Flows?

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

Photo Credit: Courtesy of E.B Duggan

by E.B. Duggan
2-21-2021

The recent storms have brought good amounts of rain to the Klamath River Basin but did it bring enough snow to increase the snow pack for decent Spring Flows? Up on the Oregon side of the Klamath watershed I have a report of 12 feet of snow but on the California side the snow pack is still low, down into the 60 inches plus low water content. This is not good news for the rivers. Hopefully these late storms will bring more snow in the higher elevations. We are experiencing late storms this year which possibly could change the spring flows and fill some of our reservoirs, if not we are looking at some low water releases for the rivers and farmers. Then again, we have those promises the Governor and President made to the farmers about guaranteed water allotments for the central valley. Who said that the water wars will end?? Fish vs Farmers!! Not a good statement! All this does is keep us fighting and the government sits back and says “They don’t know what they want!” So, the government has to do nothing while we litigate. A waste of time! Make the government do their job and correct the problem, provide more water storage. They have the money via Prop. 1.

The bashing Supervisor Keith Groves is taking is not necessary. He needs to listen to the public who uses the river and make the TMC do their job as per the ROD or step aside! Where is the science that proves the TRRP HAS provided more salmon (fish) returns to the Klamath River Basin? I don’t see more fish in the river, all I see is a mess in the upper Trinity River. Of the 28 ROD Proposed restoration projects “How many are done? How many have failed? And Where are the large amounts of fish returns that were supposed to accrue? I have not seen them; in fact, I have seen nothing but a decrease in salmon and steelhead returns. The TRRP, TAMWG and the TMC were formed in 2000 by the Secretary of Interior to form restoration in the Trinity river that would provide more fish habitat and repair the watershed for endangered species (Coho & steelhead) to increase fish returns. Where are the public reports to show this has happened? The answer is “go to the TRRP website”, try and find this information. Its hidden in a bunch of reports that only a technical knowledge person can find. 

Trinity River Hatchery:  Julian week 7 ending Feb. 18, 2021; Fall Chinook salmon, 0-jacks, 0-adults, total 0, season total 7,103; Coho, 0-jacks, 0-adults, total 0, season total 2,333; steelhead 13, season total 522.

Upper Klamath River video count: Julian week 7 ending on Feb. 18, 2021; Shasta River; Chinook salmon 2, season total 5 (6,066 overall return), Coho 14,737, season total 20,798; Scott River, Chinook salmon-4, season total 11; Coho salmon 9, season total 15; (Bogus Creek; Chinook salmon,0, season total 2,289, Coho salmon 0, season total 145).

Fishing: This last rain has brought up the river water flows by a lot. Willow Creek is about 4,229cfsand increasing at the present time due to the run off from the streams. I was up Hwy 299 the other day and Willow Creek was flowing like mad form Berry Summit. The Creeks across the river from me are flowing the same way, South Fork is flowing over 2,000cfs, so one can see that there is a lot of inflow to the Trinity at this time. The only place I can see that is fishable in the upper river.

Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing @ 19,284cfs. This is a decrease of 3,567cfs. Iron Gate Dam is releasing 992cfs. The Weitchpec area is still closed to the general public because of the COVID 19 and for now the Mid-Klamath is also unfishable due to the highwater flows. Hwy 96 is still blocked off by the slide up at Happy Camp and look like it could take some time before it will be opened again. Right now, I would say the best bet for fishing the Kamath is above   I-5.

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 85% of capacity (a decrease of 1%) with inflows of 321cfs and releasing 574cfs on to Keswick. Shasta Lake is 49% of capacity (an increase of 0% plus 1ft) with inflows of 4,093cfs and releasing 2,592cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 90% (a decrease of 3%) with inflows of 3,197cfs and releasing 3,301cfs into the Sacramento river. Oroville Lake is 37% of capacity (an increase of 0% plus 3ft) with inflows of 2,417cfs with releases of 756cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 34% of capacity (an increase of 2% plus 4ft) with inflows of 2,118cfs with releases of 1,089cfs into the American river.

Trinity Lake: The lake is 87ft below the overflow (an increase of 1ft) and 52% of capacity (an increase of 0%) with inflows of 895fs and releasing 355cfs into Lewiston Lake with 74cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 3,301cfs into the Sacramento River.

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 96% of capacity (an increase of 1%) and water releases are 311cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of 45.9 degrees, as of 11:00am today Sunday Feb. 21, 2021. Limekiln Gulch is 4.85ft at 381cfs. Douglas City is 6.69ft with flows of 562cfs. with air temps of 44 and water temperatures of 44.2 degrees. Junction City is 2.42ft at 762cfs. Helena is 9.76ft at 976cfs with water temps of 44.1 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 5.88ft at 2,204cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 5.72cfa at 2,025cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 4,229cfs and air is 50 degrees and water at 44.8 degrees. Hoopa is 17.66ft at 8,832cfs and water is 45.5 degrees.

Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 19,284cfs a decrease of 3,567cfs.

Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 992cfs. Seiad Valley is 3.57ft at 2,390cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 3,185cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 7,038cfs, and the Salmon River is 4.97ft at 3,414cfs. Orleans is 8.00ft at 10,452cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 16.27ft at 31,005cfs and water temps are 46.3 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jed Smith are 11.47ft with flows of 9,384cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 17.94ft at N/A cfs.  Temperatures in the Valley last week had a high of 55 and a low of 38 degrees. Rain for the week was 4.13in with a water year total to date of 37.42 inches and 1.5in of snow in Willow Creek. At the present time we are seeing a little bit of sunshine but a new storm series is expected early next week. Be aware that there are some road closures in the area so be careful and check your travel plans.


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


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