IT IS WINTER STEELHEAD FISHING TIME
by E.B. Duggan
I hope all had a great Thanksgiving with family and hope you are getting ready for Christmas. I was away for Thanksgiving and with family down south and stuffed myself with turkey and pie.
The north state had a bit of weather while I was away and it looked like the area tried to catch up with the rain fall. While I was gone the area had lots of rain and plenty of snow in the higher elevations. This was good for the rivers and streams but also sent message to the fish. Get up river for spawning you are late! Fishing was really slow for salmon on the Trinity this year but it looks like it could be a great steelhead fishing year. By the way don’t forget to buy your new fishing license and steelhead harvest card for the beginning of next year’s fishing. Right now, with all the rain the rivers are muddy but as I make out this report the rivers are on the retreat, meaning that they will be clearing and dropping fast! From what I am seeing the Trinity should be ready to fish this weekend with lots of steelhead throughout the river. The fish are moving fast even in the mud so get your tackle and gear ready, change your lines and leaders and be ready to head out at the first clear skies.
There has been some controversy going on about the salmon fishing for the Trinity River. Some are saying the Hoopa Weir has allowed the tribe to take to much salmon and not leaving enough salmon to spawn for the next spawning. I have been looking into this and have found out that it has been a multitude of things that has caused the lack of salmon on the Trinity. 1. The PFMC made a mistake about how many salmon would be available for sharing the harvest; 2. The fish had a bad year out in the ocean for feed; 3. This is the beginning of the returns that the Klamath and Trinity Rivers had very bad conditions with hot water, Ich and Shasta-C causing a loss of 80 to 90% of out migrating smolt; 4. Possible over-harvesting of our salmon by Tribes. I am sure that there are several other conditions that I have missed that could have also caused the loss of our returning salmon for the Klamath River Basin. My best recommendation is that you write your congressmen and senators to start a through and complete investigation about these problems so that we don’t lose our fishing. Letters and email do help and we are going to need lots of them if you want to keep fishing the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.
We have the “Fox guarding the Hen House”. When it comes to Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt, the previous chief lobbyist for Westland Water District. The new water contract would give them a permanent deliver of 1.15 Million Acre Feet of water per year, enough water to supply 2 million households with water for one year. All of that at a cheap rate that Westland’s can sell at a great profit. We had better be writing some emails and letters about that or the Trinity will not have enough water for the fish to swim.
Trinity River Hatchery: Julian week 48 ending Dec. 2; Fall Chinook, 27-jacks, 106-adults, total 133, season total 1373; Coho, 4-jacks, 123-adults, total 127, season total 242; steelhead, 0, total 0 ,season total 14.
Willow Creek Weir counts: Julian week 48 ending Dec. 2; Fall Chinook salmon, 1-jacks, 0-adults, total 1, season totals 1,589; Coho salmon, 0-jacks, 0-adults, total 0, season total 153; steelhead, 0-1/2-pounders, 3-adults, total 3, season total 779.
Trinity River Redds survey: Julia week 47 week ending Nov. 26; survey sections 01- 02 Lewiston 8; 06 – 07 Junction City and Helena 6, total 15; total reach on Trinity River Lewiston to Weitchpec 1,481 Redds surveyed.
Fishing: The Trinity is running muddy right now as I write this report but the good news is that the rivers and streams are on their way down and look to be dropping most of the first part of the week. There have been a lot of steelhead moving on the Trinity prior to the muddy water and I am sure that they continued to move during this muddy water. During the mining days I have read that the salmon would swim up the Trinity even when the river was so thick with mud from the hydraulic mining that one could practically walk across the river and not get your pants wet. So, I am sure that the steelhead were not detoured buy this little bit of dirty water. The Thanksgiving holiday storm sent the message and this set of storms has got them moving. Last week Dec. 3rd, Brian Clemens and a friend of his fly fished from the South Fork to Big Rock section the Willow Creek run and was able to hook five adult natives up to 6lbs. On Dec. 6th Brian and another guide, Rob Salkow, fly fished the Hawkins Bar to Kimtu section down here and were able to hook 6 adult natives and a couple of half-pounders. The good news is that they saw several pods of adult Iron Heads moving up river during their trip. This tells me that steelhead are on the move to their up-river spawning grounds. It also states that there is going to be some very good fishing in the upper sections of the Trinity very soon! If I were going to think about fishing for winter steelhead in the near future, I would be booking me a guide for next week.
Upper Klamath fish video counts: Julian week 47 ending Nov. 25, Bogus Creek, Chinook salmon 0, total 973; Coho 0, total 5; Scott River, Chinook salmon 14, total 1,490, Coho 5, total 23; Shasta River, Chinook salmon 3, total 5,848, Coho 1, total 23.
Mid-Klamath: The Klamath at Weitchpec is flowing about 11,393cfs. Right now, the Klamath is muddy but with the river and in-flowing steams starting to drop the river should be clearing up for the weekend. Fishing below Orleans is non-existent right now because of high muddy water. After the river clears the fishing should start picking up around the mouth of the Trinity and up to Slate Creek. Up river, Happy Camp to I-5 there will be better fishing as more adults move into the system. Above I-5 I would expect “all bets are off” for trout and steelhead fishing because fishing should be very good.
Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 89% of capacity (an increase of 4%) with inflows of 3,482cfs and releasing 268cfs on to Keswick and the Sacramento River. Shasta is 71% of capacity (an increase of 0% plus 1ft) with inflows of 20,322cfs and releasing 4,352cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 90% (a decrease of 1%) with inflows of 5,277cfs and releasing 5,034cfs into the Sacramento river. Oroville Lake is 55% of capacity (an increase of 0% plus 2ft) with inflows of 9,295cfs with releases of 2,397cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 51% of capacity (a decrease of 1% minus 3ft) with inflows of 2,729cfs with releases of 2,373cfs into the American river.
Trinity Lake: The lake is 33ft below the overflow (an increase of 0ft) and 79% of capacity (a decrease of 0%) and inflows of 4,287cfs and releasing 209cfs into Lewiston Lake with -84cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 5,034cfs into the Sacramento River.
Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 94% of capacity (a decrease of 4%) and water releases are 293cfs with water temperatures of 45.5 degrees, as of 1:00pm today Sunday December 8, 2019. Limekiln Gulch is 4.93ft at 451cfs. Douglas City is 6.70ft and flows of 560cfs. with air temps of 53 water temperatures of 45.7 degrees. Junction City is 2.58ft at 736cfs. Helena is 10.01ft at 988cfs with water temps of 46.1 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 5.66ft at 2,038cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 5.17ft at 1,669cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 3,707cfs and air is 55 degrees and water at 46.1 degrees. Hoopa is 16.90ft at 5,952cfs and water is 47.2 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath are estimated to be 11,393cfs.
Klamath: Iron Gate is releasing 1,003cfs. Seiad Valley is 2.63ft at 1,569cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,986cfs, the Salmon River is 3.23ft at 999cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 4,442cfs. Orleans is 5.03ft at 5,441cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 12.30ft at 13,273cfs and water temps are 47.8 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jedia Smith is 9.37ft with flows of 5,005cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 15.91ft at N/A cfs. Prior to these rains the Salmon River was almost dry with only wet sand. (Bad News)
Temperatures in the Valley last week had a high of 55 and a low of 42. Rain for the week was 9.98in with a water year to date of 12.43 inches, with only a trace of snow in willow Creek, snow of 0.0in. in the valley to date. Forecasts for next week are for temperatures of highs of 64 and lows of 32 with some scattered showers and possible clear weekend weather.
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