It Looks Like The Fall Run of Chinook Salmon Are Starting To Show Up

by E.B. Duggan

The Willow Creek weir has started to count some Fall Run Chinook salmon. What with the fires, heat and change of water flows it looks like the salmon are starting to show up. It seems like a later run to me but the warm water could be a cause for the fish to slow down waiting for cooler waters. A nice cool rain would be helpful. The Trinity River Hatchery counts for Spring Run Chinook has started to slow down so maybe that could be a signal that the Fall Run is not far behind.

In the near future I hope to add some extra features about fishing the upper river including Lewison Lake and the Junction City area. I have lost some of my fishing contacts in the upper river as well as over on the Klamath. Let’s see how that turns out.

I have noticed that the 750ft marker for the Willow Creek weir is somewhat down river from where it used to be. Several guides have brought this to my attention. I will try to fine out what happened and see what can be done to move it back up where it used to be. I do know that the people at the weir have been most helpful about the fishing and fish counts there. The Junction City weir time has been extended to try and see if Fish and Wildlife can get a better count of the salmon. I am also trying to get some fishing pictures into the column so if you would like to see yours in the paper, please feel free to send them in. I need; who the fisher person is, the size, what was used to catch the fish and approximately where the fish was caught. 

NOTE: Trinity Lake is down 176ft below the overflow and now holding 547,986AF, that is minus 4,125AF from last week. I was told that the lowest the lake was ever drawn down was in the 1970s. I still say that the Winter Water Releases is a bad idea for this year because of the predicted low winter snows and rains. The weather people have predicted the possibility of another year of drought. If this is correct the possibility of Trinity Lake regaining water could be very dangerous for water users and fishing.

Lewiston Lake Fishing: The fall fishing this year has been the best year since Louise and Matt Rockwood have been at the Pine Cove Marina. This is the first time that the lake has fished like a lake as it usually fishes like a river. Louise said that the fly fishing has been really good. The Midge fishing is hot and well as Black or Olive Woolies are doing well. She also stated that the Green Drake have been showing up for the first time. Hardware fishers using Little Cleo’s or Kast Masters were able to bring in limits. The lake has been producing lots of limits.

Trinity River Hatchery summary: Julian Week 39 ending Sep. 30, 2022; Spring Chinook Salmon, 63-adult, 7-jacks, total 70, season total 2,834; Coho salmon, 0-jack, 0-adult,season total 0; 0-steelhead, total 0, season total 5.

Junction City weir summary: Julian week 39 ending Sep. 30; Chinook salmon, 3-jack, 70-adult, total 73, season total 2,506; Coho salmon, 1-jack, 6-adult, total 7, season total 7; steelhead, 10-adult, 0-1/2lbs, total 10, season total 149, Brown trout, 0, season total 22.

Willow Creek weir summary: Julian week ending Sep. 30, 2022; Chinook salmon, 27-jacks, 62-adults, total 89,season total 99; Coho salmon, 15-jacks, 52-adults,total 67, season total 69; steelhead, 4-1/2lbs, 47adults, total 51, season total 54.

Fishing: This past week has been slow in the Willow Creek area. I have noticed that there have been more vehicles parked at the trail to Willow Creek at big Rock this last week so maybe the fishing there. The fishing below the airport is now open. You have to park up in the parking lot then walk down to the gate and then on down to the river. Tish Tang has been a great morning fish but seems to slack up in the afternoon. As usual at this time of the year the Pearson Hole above the mouth of the Trinity is fishing hot for salmon using spinners.

Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing 2,140cfs. This is a decrease of 124cfs.  Iron Gate Dam is releasing 1,042cfs. Fishing around Weitchpec above the bridge and up to Orleans has been fair to good for those throwing fresh roe when the river is not real muddy. I have received a lot of inquiries about the muddy and dark water. The dirty water is from the mud slide up by Quigleys’ store caused by the fire in the Upper River Basin around Yreka. The little town of Hamburg is a mess and is helping with the mess in the river. This is going to be an ongoing problem as winter rains become more frequent. I just hope the fish can survive and we don’t lose this year’s salmon run.  

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 97% of capacity (an increase of 0%) with inflows of 44cfs and releasing 239cfs in to Spring Creek. Shasta Lake is 33% of capacity (a decrease of 0% minus 1ft) with inflows of 3,210cfs and releasing 4,190cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 92% (an increase of 13%) with inflows of 4,674cfs and releasing 4,105cfs into the Sacramento River. Oroville Lake is 35% of capacity (a decrease of 0% minus 2ft) with inflows of 2,067cfs with releases of 2,805cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 35% of capacity (a decrease of 2% minus 2ft) with inflows of 1,148cfs with releases of 1,677cfs into the American river.

Trinity Lake: The lake is 177ft below the overflow (an increase of 1ft) and 22% of capacity (a decrease of 1%) with inflows of 96cfs and releasing 363cfs into Lewiston Lake with 87cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown and on to Keswick Power Plant, leaving 547,986AF in lake storage (a decrease of 4,125AFG), and releasing 4,115cfs into the Sacramento River.

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 97% of capacity (an increase of 0%) and water releases of 450cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of 53.8 degrees, as of 1:30am today Saturday October 8, 2022. Limekiln Gulch is 4.89ft at 465cfs. Douglas City is 6.49ft with flows of 444cfs with water temperatures of 53.6 degrees. Junction City is 1.94ft at 453cfs. Helena is 8.43ft at 474cfs with water temps of 56.9 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 2.65ft at 517cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 1.76ft at 64cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 581cfs and air is 73 degrees and water at 61 degrees, Hoopa is 11.31ft at 618cfs with water at 63.4 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 2,140cfs an increase of 124cfs.

Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 1,042cfs. Seiad Valley is 2.04ft at 1,150cfs. Indian Creek is 3.20ft at 61cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,211cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 1,362fs, and the Salmon River is 1.37ft at 160cfs. Orleans is 2.14ft at 1,522cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 8.06ft at 2,299cfs and water temps are 64.9 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jed Smith are 4.58ft with flows of 263cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 11.59ft at N/A cfs.

Temperatures for the Valley last week had a high of 87 and a low of 46 degrees. Rain for the week was 0.00in with a water year total to date of 0.00 inches and 0.00in of snow in Willow Creek. The new water year for 2022-‘23 started October 1, 2022. The predicted temperatures for next week are for high of 94 and lows of 54. We are predicted to have sun all next week with temperatures to dropping for the weekend. This could possibly make for better fishing for the weekend.

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