Trinity River - Willow Creek Weir Fish Report for 8-21-2023
Hatchery Fish Good or Bad
Trinity River - Willow Creek Weir - Willow Creek, CA (Humboldt County)
by E.B. Duggan
We had some very hot weather last week with a few thunder showers at the beginning of the week that started some fires. On Saturday we had measurable rain that came all at once then left with a flurry of light showers and thunder and lightning. The fires ae still burning and leaving heavy smoke in the valley. The closest fire is in the Horse Linto Creek drainage. It has spread on the Hoopa Reservation but not gaining a lot of acreage as of yet.
The main topic right now is the decrease of returning Spring Chinook Salmon to the Trinity River this year. At present the Trinity is NOT getting enough native fish returning to make the natural native spawning goals for the Klamath River Basin as of which the Trinity River is a major tributary of. The Trinioty River Hatchery is at the verge of receiving enough Spring Chinook Salmon to meet the egg collecting goal but not enough to make a large surplus for possible release. Thus, the age-old question; “Are hatchery fish in furrier to native fish?” In most cases the hatchery fish are derived from the native fish of that water system so genetically it is almost impossible to tell the difference from native fish or hatchery fish. (Genetically) Hatchery fish are not trained to be aware of predators as are native fish. (I’ll leave it at that for now)
When this happened in Washington on the Cowlitz River Spring Run Chinook were brought into the hatchery for rearing and release into the river. This action helped the return of Spring Chinook to the point of restoring the Spring Run. Why are we not trying to do the same thing on the Trinity? “IF” the feds and CDFW were to do the same thing on the Trinity we could possibly see a return of Chinook and Coho Salmon to the river to a point of opening the fishery both in the Ocean and In-River salmon fishing. Allowing some hatchery fish to spawn naturally would help native fish return to a point of opening fishing for “hatchery fish only” harvest. It would allow fishermen to return to the river as well as help the economy. Too great of an idea? If they can do in Washington why can’t CDFW do it in California? Tribal harvest could increase as well as Commercial fishery and the In-River fishery. That sounds like a win win to me, but who am I, just an old fisherman who still likes to fish and see my community thrive!
Notice: At noon Friday Aug. 18, Water releases began on the Trinity River, as of 10:00pm tonight releases will have reached 2,300cfs, buy 6:00pm Monday Aug. 21, release will begin to decrease from 2,300cfs to 750cfs by Wed. Aug. 23. Friday Aug. 25 12;00 noon release will decrease from 750cfs to 450cfs (summer flows) by 8:00pm Friday Aug. 25, 2023. Please be aware of these increased water flows and be careful when river recreating.
Junction City Weir summary: Julian Week 32 ending Aug. 12, 2023; Spring Chinook, 33 jacks, 24 adults, total of 57, seasonal total 1,324; Coho Salmon 0, steelhead; 0- ½-pounders, 4- adults, total 4, seasonal total 118; 0-Brown Trout, seasonal total 21.
Fishing: With the 110-degree temperatures of last week the river heated up to 75 degrees and the fish were NOT moving hardly at all in the Klamath or Trinity. All the fish were doing was looking of cool water and when the found it they stayed put. It was great for river recreating though. If you are looking to fish the Lewiston Lake or maybe Trinity Lake you might call the Pine Cove Marina ((530-778-3878) 75.3If you are interested in rafting you can contact Bigfoot Rafting, Brianna Carreira (530-629-2263). Most of the river guides have moved over to the Sacramento and Pit Rivers for trout fishing.
Mid-Klamath and Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing 2,730cfs, this is an increase of 182cfs from last week. Iron Gate Dam is currently releasing 912cfs an increase of 53cfs from last week. The Klamath River has been slowly clearing from Iron Gate down river but with the hot weather of last week fishing has been very scarce. Some of the fishing guides have moved up to the mouth of the Rogue and Umpqua Rivers in Oregon. The heat and hot water has done its thing and made the salmon hold up in cooler waters or stay out to sea. I was still unable to find out about the upper river sections for this report. If you are interested in fishing the Upper Klamath you can call Scott Caldwell a call (530-905-0758) or if you want to fish the Happy Camp Area you can call Marble Mountain Resort, Doug Cole (530-469-3322).
Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 95% of capacity (a decrease of 4%) with inflows of 795cfs and releasing 787cfs waters over to Shasta Reservoir. Shasta Lake is 80% of capacity (a decrease of 2% minus 3ft) with inflows of 3,544cfs and releasing 8,248cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 91% (a decrease of 5%) with inflows of 9,339cfs and releasing 9,563cfs into the Sacramento River. Oroville Lake is 85% of capacity (a decrease of 2% minus 5ft) with inflows of 2,787cfs with releases of 9,076cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 80% of capacity (a decrease of 2% minus 3ft) with inflows of 2,241cfs with releases of 4,112cfs into the American river. Trinity Lake is 1,369,816AF a decrease of 13,490AF. This is another loss of storage instead of a gain, if his continues we will be down to the “Cold-Water Pool” soon.
Trinity Lake: The lake is 78ft below the overflow (an increase of 1ft) and 56% of capacity (a decrease of 1%) with inflows of 102cfs and releasing 1,517cfs into Lewiston Lake with 497cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown and on to Keswick Power Plant, and releasing 9,563cfs into the Sacramento River. (Our cold water going over to the Sacramento River right now)
Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 95% of capacity (a decrease of 3%) and water releases of 1,517cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of 52.4 degrees, as of 12:00pm today Sunday August 20, 2023. Limekiln Gulch is 5.29ft at 762cfs. Douglas City is 7.12ft with flows of 704cfs with water temperatures of 55.3 degrees. Junction City is 2.50ft at 769cfs. Helena is 7.34ft at 788cfs with water temps of 62.1 degrees. Burnt Ranch at Cedar Flat is 3.47ft at 843cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 3.03ft at 152cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 995cfs and air is 87 degrees and water at 70.5 degrees, almost too hot for salmon, Hoopa is 12.07ft at 1,094cfs with water at 73.8 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 2,730cfs an increase of 182cfs.
Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 912cfs a decrease of 53cfs. Seiad Valley is 1.96ft at 1,075cfs. Indian Creek is 3.69ft at 86cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,161cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 1,379fs, and the Salmon River is 1.65ft at 257cfs. Orleans is 2.55ft at 1,636cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 8.22ft at 2,892cfs and water temps are 72.5 degrees. Dangerous temperatures for salmon are 72 degrees or 17 Celsius. Flows for the Smith River at Jedia Smith are 4.57ft with flows of 267cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 11.59ft at N/A. Temperatures for the Valley last week had a high of 110 and a low of 60 degrees. Rain for the week was 0.02in with a water year total to date of 76.02 inches and 0.00in of snow for a total of 7.50in. in Willow Creek. The predicted temperatures for next week are for high of 93 and a low of 56. Most of the rain came as thunder showers starting some fires making the valley smokey.
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