Steelheading on the Trinity River this past week was an adventurous wild ride.
Lots of rain and snow pounded Trinity County recently. As of Wednesday morning 12/22 the Junction City reach (below Canyon Creek) topped out at just over 2200cfs - which is the highest of the last three big spikes of water we’ve seen the last couple weeks. For the most part, the river endured and handled the influx of water pretty well, blowing out for very short periods only to quickly drop and clear within a few hours when the weather let up. The Holy Trinity can be a resilient river…
I’ve been fishing the Trinity nearly everyday with a few “bail out” trips over to the Lower Sac… frankly I’m amazed we got so many days on the river when I thought she would blow out. Epic steelheading often happens the days when the river is on the cusp of unfishable.
My last trip on the river was yesterday (Wednesday) working with my buddy AC.
we fished through Steiner Flat and had a great day hooking fish all day long with
PERFECT water conditions! The bulk of the hatchery run fish are mostly in the
upper river now - Lewiston down through Douglas City - although my last trip
through Junction City we did stick a handful of very bright fin clippers so there
may be a few of them around downriver, still, for your holiday smoker or bbq.
Majority of the fish we were getting into downriver were super hot, wild steelhead. There’s nothing like hooking these fish in big water on stormy days!! They go absolutely ape shit crazy flipping themselves silly. Landing them is sometimes impossible. I witnessed fish jump half dozen times before anglers even came tight to em’. Many never did come tight - sitting there dumbstruck by what just happened - a spider’s web of slack fly line looped all over their body as if sprayed by party confetti. I love these zany steelhead…
My advice is to look at the flows and the weather. If you see one day of sun or no rain – go immediately! The river will probably be fishable somewhere. We might be (I don’t want to jinx it) in the beginnings of a big winter and may have to settle for many unfishable days later this season? As winter progresses and snowfall accumulates in the mountains, the effects of rain on snow will be more significant in the coming weeks. Winter steelheading is all about weather windows and rolling the dice. Be ready to drop everything and go fish when conditions “might” be right, if you wait for things to be perfect… you’ll often be late to the party.