Steelhead weather

Sorry about no report last week but my area was on PG&E’s “Safety Power Shut Off” for Northern California. It appears that this is going to happen more often when we have high winds, dry weather and Red Flag conditions. The reasoning for that is to try and stop/reduce disastrous fires in California.

With the cold, winter-like weather we are experiencing in the Trinity Valley the water temperatures are dropping to a point where the steelhead are moving up to their spawning grounds. This is good because we are starting to see more adult steelhead go through the Willow Creek area. At the present time we are seeing about a 25 percent drop in returning adult hatchery steelhead at the Willow Creek Weir as compared to last year at this time, but we are seeing an increase in adult native steelhead. I don’t know if this is good or bad yet because I am not sure of what it takes for the Trinity River Hatchery egg count for the rearing and release of steelhead into the Trinity River. I do know that the Klamath River Hatchery has not been able to reach their hatchery steelhead release for several years so the upper Klamath has become a “catch and release fishery for steelhead for some time.

I know many of you are concerned about the low amount of salmon that have returned to the Trinity for salmon fishing this year and all I can say is that I am looking into it and hope I can have something soon. I am trying to find an answer but, in the meantime, I would advise you to write letters to your congressman about the poor fishing conditions on the Trinity River and request an investigation into the Trinity River Restoration Program and the placing of a second weir in the river on the Hoopa Reservation. Letters do help; complaints to me and other fishermen does nothing. You can write your representative. U.S. Senate, Dianne Feinstein: Hart Senate Office Building, Room 331, Washington, D.C. 20510; U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman: 1630 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515,; the Secretary of Commerce and the director of NOAA.    

We are also having a serious problem on the South Fork of the Trinity River. The return of spring run chinook salmon for this year is drastically low, only 12-14 spawning salmon were counted this year and that makes that run genetically limited and could possibly go extinct.

Trinity River Hatchery, Julian week 43 ending Oct. 28: Subtotal for spring chinook, jack totals 532, adult totals 3,946, for a total of 4,478; coho 0; steelhead 2, season total 9.  

Junction City Weir counts, Julian week 40 ending Oct. 7: Chinook salmon, 3 jack, 2 adult, total 5, season total 546; coho 0; steelhead half-pounders 0, adults 1, season total 118; Brown trout 0, season total 23.  

Fishing: Right now the Trinity is running low and cold with very little fishing pressure. It is hard to find anyone fishing on the river. The few that are fishing are having a good time catching and releasing steelhead with some good-sized adults amongst the jacks. It is true that 75 percent of the steelhead landed are native fish, but it is still fun hooking into one of those feisty fish. From the Willow Creek Weir counts the main part of this run happened last week down here so I would expect that those fish should be arriving in the upper part of the river by this weekend. The low flow (293 cfs Lewiston releases) of the river and clarity of the water makes it hard to just walk up and drop a line in without spooking the fish. So, I recommend stealth and patience to land those Iron Heads.    

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 85 percent of capacity (a decrease of 5 percent) with inflows of 532 cfs and releasing 541 cfs onto Keswick and the Sacramento River. Shasta is 72 percent of capacity (a decrease of 1 percent, minus 3 feet) with inflows of 2,359 cfs and releasing 5,398 cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 94 percent (an increase of 3 percent) with inflows of 6,020 cfs and releasing 5,741 cfs into the Sacramento River. Lake Oroville is 57 percent of capacity (a decrease of 2 percent, minus 7 feet) with inflows of 1,240 cfs with releases of 4,484 cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 66 percent of capacity (a decrease of 6 percent, minus 6 feet) with inflows of 1,306 cfs with releases of 2,953 cfs into the American River.

Trinity Lake: The lake is 31 feet below the overflow (an increase of 1 foot) and 80 percent of capacity (a decrease of 1 percent) and inflows are 113 cfs and releasing 901 cfs into Lewiston Lake with 608 cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 5,741 cfs into the Sacramento River.  

Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Lake is 97 percent of capacity (an increase of 2 percent) and water releases are 293 cfs with water temperature of 43.6 degrees as of noon Sunday, Nov. 3. Limekiln Gulch is 4.72ft at 327 cfs. Douglas City is 6.27ft and flows of 320 cfs with water temperature of 45.4 degrees. Junction City is 1.69ft at 373 cfs. Helena is 8.09ft at 346 cfs with water temp of 46.2 degrees and water turbidity at 0.90. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 2.41ft at 419 cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 2.19ft at 91 cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 510 cfs and water at 46.3 degrees. Hoopa is 11.27ft at 665 cfs and water is 46.8 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath are estimated to be 2,712 cfs.  

Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 1,308 cfs. Seiad Valley is 2.67ft at 1,600 cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,656 cfs, the Salmon River is 1.92ft at 219 cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 1,828 cfs. Orleans is 3.06ft at 2,047 cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 8.74ft at 3,134 cfs and water temp are 49.2 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jedia Smith is 8.46ft with flows of 820 cfs, and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are at 11.78ft.

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