Winter Steelhead Are Being Caught

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

Winter Steelhead Are Being Caught

by E.B. Duggan

Winter steelhead were being caught before the rains came in the Lower Trinity. The rains came and the rivers raised which made fishing harder. Before the rains the lower river was a bit high but coming into good fishing condition.

The road into the South fork of the Trinity River at Sandy Bar is the ONLY public access to the river for drift boats guides. Warning; this road is in horrible condition. If you plan to use this road you had better have a good four-wheel drive with good clearance or you may be in trouble. This road is a US Forest Service Road and was last maintained right after the Knob Fire. This road should be kept open for public use as it is the only public road for the public to launch rafts and boats. Here in lies the problem, licensed fishing guides pay 3% of gross wages to the US Forest Service and BLM to maintain and provide river access. When you add up all of the licensed river guides (that includes rafting and fishing guides) you are talking a lot of money. Where does it go? The road into South Fork, Sandy Bar should be maintained on an on-going-basis, but it has only been graded once in the last 25yrs. Yes, it does go across private property, but the Forest Service still claims the road for fire and water access. Therefore, the road should be maintained they get paid to service it! This also goes for public river access to the upper river. BLM and Us Forest Service, where is the money and why are you NOT servicing these roads?

Trinity River weir summary: These are preliminary numbers and are not the final results. Chinook Salmon, 387-jacks, 847-adults, total combined 1,233; Coho Salmon185-jacks, 653-adults, total combined 838; Steelhead, 25-1/2-pounders, 461-adults, total combined 486.These results were collected from Sep. 17 through Nov. 18.

Trinity River Hatchery summary: Julian Week 3 ending Jan. 21, 2023; Fall Run Chinook Salmon, 1-adult, 0-jacks, total 1, season total 3,858; Coho salmon, 0-jack, 0-adult, total 0, season total 3,504; 77-steelhead, season total 269. It looks like the hatchery will make egg quotas for salmon but maybe not for steelhead.

Fishing: Prior to the rains fishing for winter steelhead was starting to improve in the lower Trinity River. The river was steelhead green and ½-pounders were showing up with a few adults. Iron Heads were being caught and released on a fair to good amount using flies, plugs, spinners and bait. It was a smorgasbord of fishing. Most of the fishing was from drift boats (reason for the comments above) but some bank fishermen. The bank fishing was mostly hardware, spinners and spoons while the boaters were using flies, bait and plugs. This has really been an odd year for winter fishing due to the weather patterns and lateness of the runs for winter steelhead. The rains have caused many of the burn areas to have mud slides into the rivers and are making the high water to be much more muddy. If you are interested in fishing the Upper Trinity you might want to contact your local people as to where you should be fishing. Indian Creek Lodge, Cory (530) 6236294, Junction City, Butch (530)623-2803, Pine Cove Marina Matt or Louise (530)778-3878.

Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing 12,206cfs. This is a decrease of 784cfs.  Iron Gate Dam is releasing 1,005cfs.

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 86% of capacity (a decrease of 5%) with inflows of 538cfs and releasing 535cfs into Spring Creek. Shasta Lake is 57% of capacity (an increase of 1% plus 3ft) with inflows of 5,576cfs and releasing 2,476cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 92% (an increase of 6%) with inflows of 3,375cfs and releasing 3,317cfs into the Sacramento River. Oroville Lake is 66% of capacity (an increase of 2% plus 8ft) with inflows of 5,712cfs with releases of 299cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 51% of capacity (a decrease of 1% minus1ft) with inflows of 3,546cfs with releases of 4,346cfs into the American river. Trinity Lake is 770,207F plus 12,727AF, we are looking good to stay above the “Cold Water Pool” of 600,000AF for the time being.  The Trinity Alps is the water source for Trinity Lake. We could hopefully have a turnaround with a good snowpack.

Trinity Lake: The lake is 143ft below the overflow (an increase of 2ft) and 31% of capacity (an increase of 0%) with inflows of 1,100cfs and releasing 315cfs into Lewiston Lake with 24cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown and on to Keswick Power Plant, leaving 770,207AF in lake storage (an increase of 12,727AF), and releasing 3,317cfs into the Sacramento River.

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 97% of capacity (an increase of 2%) and water releases of 291cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of 43.6 degrees, as of 11:00am today Sunday February 5, 2023. Limekiln Gulch is 4.84ft at 415cfs. Douglas City is 6.66ft with flows of 543cfs with water temperatures of 42.6 degrees. Junction City is 2.45ft at 741cfs. Helena is 9.66ft at 917cfs with water temps of 43.6 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 5.16ft at 1,691cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 6.05t at 2,195cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 3,889cfs and air is 44 degrees and water at 44.5 degrees, Hoopa is 15.85ft at 5,579cfs with water at 45.4 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 12,206cfs a decrease of 784cfs.

Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 1,005cfs. Seiad Valley is 2.99ft at 1,860cfs. Indian Creek is 5.30ft at 682cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 2,542cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 4,832fs, and the Salmon River is     3.75ft at 1,795cfs. Orleans is 5.80ft at 6,627cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 12.35ft at 14,264cfs and water temps are 44.9 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jed Smith are 8.25ft with flows of 3,362cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 14.35ft at N/A cfs.

Temperatures for the Valley last week had a high of 59 and a low of 26 degrees. Rain for the week was 2.34in with a water year total to date of 50.79 inches and 0.00in of snow in Willow Creek. The predicted temperatures for next week are for high of 67 and lows of 36. The weather predicted for next week is cloudy with rain for the weekend and possible snow showers in the higher elevations, which means possible snow forth the passes.

from Willow Creek, CA Phone 530-629-3554, E-mail

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