Too much water too early
by Gary Heffley
Emerging from the drought plagued years in Northern California, we are now in a situation where we have too much water way too early in the year. Our major reservoirs are having to release water at an unprecedented rate for this time of year. On average, the three major reservoirs of Shasta, Trinity, and Oroville are taking in water and watching storage levels slowly increase on this date. This year, in contrast, has seen numerous high volume releases from Oroville and Shasta earlier in the Spring as both reservoirs reached capacity. While releases from Oroville and Shasta had leveled off to near normal seasonal flows, the continued rainy weather coupled with the foreseen influx of snowmelt when the warmer temperatures arrive, have meant another round of abnormally high volume releases. Trinity Lake which has not been full in many years is now, has been forced to make room for Spring inflows and is releasing water from the lake.
Shasta is now at 10 feet from full pool and slowly dropping as releases have been raised from around 10,000cfs to 30,000cfs in the last week. Oroville is about 50 feet from full with current releases of over 35,000cfs. Trinity Lake is just 5.5 feet from full and dropping slowly as release flows have been increased to over 11,000cfs. Releases are scheduled to match or stay just ahead of daily inflow levels.
While all three lakes are experiencing good to great bass fishing, with solid trout action on Shasta and Trinity, angling in the river systems below each are greatly impacted. For all intents and purposes, the Trinity is blown out and unfishable. The Sacramento, especially in the Redding area, has seen limited activity for skilled boaters and anglers due to extremely high and fast flows. Only a handful of guides are venturing out, when this area is normally teeming with boats and guides this time of year. The lower Feather has also seen challenges as Striper anglers struggle with high flows and turbidity.
Look for great lake fishing to continue and get even better as a stable pattern of clear weather is seen for the next week or so. The smallmouth action on Trinity Lake should be ready to bust out with some trophies a real possibility. Some large spots are also in the mix along with easy limits at Shasta as some nice bass in the 8 and 9 pound class were landed at the recent Bassmaster event on the lake. Oroville has been kicking out some great numbers for bass anglers, but many area anglers are heading to nearby Bullard's Bar Reservoir for a shot at a world record class spotted bass.
Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over seven years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has long history in the Sporting Goods field and is presently managing the Gift Bar and Camping Department at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.
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