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Trinity and Lower Sacramento Fly Fishing Report

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Dave Neal reports on 3.9.17


Northern CA, Trinity & Lower Sacramento Rivers 3-9

In between the storms I’ve been on the Trinity River quite a few days this past week. We saw a little snow and a little rain but it didn’t affect the flows all that much. We’ve been fishing all over the river despite the big water from DC thru JC; it’s been fun running super long floats and covering lots of miles with the drift boat. Big water has been the new normal all season.

Fishing is far from “red-hot” compared to the Trinity many anglers might be accustomed to. You will have to work hard for the hookup and the bottom line is this – there just are not many fish left in the system. We are at the tail end of the Fall/Winter season (seeing more down-runners showing up). Anglers willing to commit and work hard all day long have the opportunity to still hook a steelhead a day with a few halfies or maybe a brown trout thrown in. Maybe.

However, for the right clients or anglers… there are positives to fishing the Trinity River… still. I don’t want to sound like a Debbie-Downer and discourage anglers from coming so I’ll contribute this.

  • Several anglers in my boat this week landed their first steelhead ever, which is always cool, including a 14yr old kid who is now ruined (in a good way)
  • There’s always a possibility of hooking a bright, big, winter-run fish - we have hooked and lost a couple this week!!
  • The river is far less crowded this time of year
  • This river harbors some very big brown trout…
  • The river is far less crowded this time of year There simply are not many options to fish for trout or steelhead in California right now. Are there?

For the cabin fever or trapped-in-the-cubicle afflicted the Trinity has been a loyal and resilient friend these past few weeks. The river has welcomed us each day and always rewarded our efforts ways beyond the simple hero shot.

Winter steelheading tests our commitment and fortitude. The rain, the graphs, the impending doubts, rockslides, road conditions… Anglers who brush aside discomfort and doubts while embracing the process and go fishing for the right reason are always rewarded beyond measure and in ways that fishing reports fail short in telling the whole story.

The weather looks outstanding this week. Finally some sun!! With warmer weather comes warmer water temps as long as we don’t get too much snow runoff. Fish may respond to a swung fly and brown trout love crushing small fish.

A day on the river with your new switch or Spey rod and an assortment of leech patterns may be the ticket… I get excited about swinging the 11’ 5wt this time of year – it’s a great way to bust out of the winter doldrums w/ a buddy or two. A sunny day on the Trinity this time of year can be special.

Trinity Lake is filling up within 32ft of the top so it may not be long before water managers are forced to release more water from the reservoirs… keep this in mind planning a trip.

The Lower Sac

The good news is the river is finally coming down… around 14k by this weekend. We are still waiting for it to clear-up as it’s currently running very brown – but at least one of two condition factors are moving in the right direction!

Maybe it’s possible to find a few biters in the dirty water? You can bet a few anxious locals are out there right now trying their hardest… big and bright… eggs and legs!

Also, perhaps getting downriver a bit as the tributaries begin clearing up. Clear Creek, Cow Creek and Cottonwood Creek among many others should continue to see high flows for a bit. When these streams turn green clear it *might contribute to some good mixing below the confluences of these major tribs. Stay tuned…

When the Lower Sacramento River finally does drop into shape and turn green expect it to be a barnburner… fishing could be really, really special once we see these conditions improve!

Be ready to drop everything and get up here to fish!!!

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