Looks Like Steelhead Time

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

Looks Like Steelhead Time

by E.B. Duggan
1-24-2023

According to the computer it is predicting clear weather all next week with a cold of 32 degrees. This looks and sound like steelhead fishing weather if the prediction is correct. The rivers and streams are on the decline and clearing some. My experience has been that this is the time for winter steelhead fishing after some good storms and the rivers are on the decline.

In the 30 plus years I have writing this column I have only seen/heard of Trinity Lake filling this fast. I think the fastest was during the 1964 flood year, when the Lake almost filled in one year. Trinity Lake usually depends on snow melt for water but this year it appears that rain is taking the lead for trying to fill the lake. The lake has gained 38 feet since January 14.  Last year it started out the same but fizzled out after February with no rain and very light to no snow pack. This year it has started out with a very good beginning for snow pack but we will have to wait and see what will come after February. Rain, snow or no snow? Looking at the Daily Reservoir Storage Summary I see several of the Reservoirs are reaching close to full. I just wish there were some way to capture some of the large flows from below the dams, NOT ALL, but some of the water for future use. The rivers need this flushing to help provide good spawning grounds for salmon and steelhead. Mother nature seems to have a way to make it feast or famine. Of course, we don’t help things by covering everything with concrete and asphalt. 

Trinity River Hatchery summary: Julian Week 2 ending Jan. 14, 2023; Fall Run Chinook Salmon, 0-adult, 0-jacks, total 0, season total 3,857; Coho salmon, 0-jack, 2-adult, total 2, season total 3,504; 38-steelhead, season total 192. It looks like the hatchery will make egg quotas for salmon but not for steelhead.

Junction City weir summary: The Junction City weir has been removed before the storms arrived. 

Fishing: Fishing has been slow due to the storms but now that the river is dropping and clearing with the river a murky green. Some upriver winter steelhead fishing should be fair to good. As for fishermen I have not seen any on the lower part of the river. You might try to contact the Junction City Store, Butch (530-623-2803 or Indian Creek Lodge, Cory (560)623-6294 for better upper river conditions. If you would be interested in Lewiston Lake contact Pine Cove Marina (530)778-3878.

Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing 21,604cfs. This is an increase of 47,607cfs.  Iron Gate Dam is releasing 954cfs. 

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 96% of capacity (an increase of 6%) with inflows of 639cfs and releasing 2,000cfs into Spring Creek. Shasta Lake is 55% of capacity (an increase of 8% plus 19ft) with inflows of 8,010cfs and releasing 1,043cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 81% (a decrease of 4%) with inflows of 3,310cfs and releasing 3,575cfs into the Sacramento River. Oroville Lake is 62% of capacity (an increase of 10% plus 33ft) with inflows of 8,576cfs with releases of 724cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 53% of capacity (an increase of 9% plus 13ft) with inflows of 6,453cfs with releases of 10,166cfs into the American river. Trinity Lake is 750,288AF plus 69,455AF, it looks like we are going to stay above the “Cold water pool” of 600,00AF that was agreed upon to maintain cold-water releases into the river. This winter appears to be contradicting the forecasts of the national weather bureau by being ahead of last year’s rain fall. From the forecasts we are also having some good snow pack in the Northern Sierras. I haven’t seen any snow reports from the Trinity Alps area yet. The Trinity Alps is the water source for Trinity Lake. We could hopefully have a turnaround in the weather this year and refresh the reservoirs.  

Trinity Lake: The lake is 146ft below the overflow (an increase of 10ft) and 31% of capacity (an increase of 7%) with inflows of 1,357cfs and releasing 244cfs into Lewiston Lake with -53cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown and on to Keswick Power Plant, leaving 750,288AF in lake storage (an increase of 69,455AF), and releasing 3,575cfs into the Sacramento River. 

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 95% of capacity (an increase of 1%) and water releases of 297cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of 44.1 degrees, as of 9:00am today Tuesday December 24, 2023. Limekiln Gulch is 4.89ft at 450cfs. Douglas City is 6.74ft with flows of 593cfs with water temperatures of 40.5 degrees. Junction City is 2.68ft at 874cfs. Helena is 9.96ft at 1,045cfs with water temps of 40.7 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 5.73ft at 2,090cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 6.13t at 2,303cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 4,393cfs and air is 34 degrees and water at 44 degrees, Hoopa is 16.99ft at 7,540cfs with water at 43.2 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 15,466cfs a decrease of 53,765cfs. 

Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 954cfs. Seiad Valley is 3.29ft at 2,125cfs. Indian Creek is 5.37ft at 716cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 2,941cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 6,002fs, and the Salmon River is     3.87ft at 1,924cfs. Orleans is 6.58ft at 7,926cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 13.94ft at 29,022cfs and water temps are 43.6 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jed Smith are 8.38ft with flows of 3,545cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 14.96ft at N/A cfs. 

Temperatures for the Valley last week had a high of 50 and a low of 38 degrees. Rain for the week was 4.30in with a water year total to date of 48.45 inches and 0.00in of snow in Willow Creek. The predicted temperatures for next week are for high of 67 and lows of 35. The weather predicted for next week is sunshine with brisk weather. That is Winter steelhead kind of weather.


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


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