Winter steelhead fishing is fair to good depending on when the fish are moving up the Trinity. I have received phone calls about why the steelhead and salmon fishing are so bad this season. One of the major problems this year is that the ocean conditions were so bad this past year. The conditions were as such that the fish did not have the food (Krill and shrimp) in good quantities this last year therefore they did not grow to normal size as usual. If you look back at what the size of the fish you were keeping or releasing you will see that there were not many fat or large fish. That is for salmon and steelhead. I cannot remember any salmon in the 30-pound range being landed this last year and the winter steelhead are not of the normal size we are used to hooking into. Also, the quantity of fish has not returned as predicted by PFMC and the CDFW. I cannot say much about the Hoopa weir yet because the chairman of the Hoopa Tribe has not returned my calls to meet or talk with me. I hope this will change soon!
Mega Tables: The Mega Tables are being worked on as I write this column. What is the Mega Tables you ask? This is the collection of the data from the past season as to what and how many fish were harvested this past fishing season, both salmon and steelhead. Some of the preliminary reports I have been able to acquire are not looking good. The Pacific Marine Fishery Council (PFMC) staff and CDFW staff collect the harvest data and then set a selection of possible fishing season quotas. The prior fishing year (2018) showed an over harvest for the prior years and put 2019 fishing season under an “over harvest” condition and therefore a 60,000 natural spawning salmon return limit to the Klamath River Basin was required to lessen the requirements back to 40,700 natural spawning salmon. The preliminary reports only show 47,000 total Klamath River Basin salmon returned. That is below the required 60,000 limits return the PFMC set and could require an increase to 80,000 fish return for next year to relieve the “over fishing” status. Remember I am only working with early reporting and this could change by the Feb. 27 meeting in Santa Rosa. Just to let you know the Klamath River Basin harvest preliminary report showed; Recreational Harvest of 5,370 adult salmon, Tribal Harvest of 5,990 adult salmon. These again are only preliminary reports and the Tribal Harvest is of all Tribes reporting. This could require a substantial reduction of fishing opportunities for all fishing. I really hope not but that is the sad facts as of to date.
Trinity River Hatchery, Julian week 5 ending Feb. 4: Fall chinook, 0 jacks, 0 adults, total 0, season total 1,586, combined total 6,064; Coho, 0 jacks, 0 adults, total 0, season total 649; steelhead, 71, season total 194.
Fishing: Right now, the upper Trinity has been fishing fair to good depending upon the amount of steelhead that are moving up river. Most of the fishing is from Indian Creek down to Evans Bar area. I did not get any report from the Junction City area this past week. Here in Willow Creek we are experiencing a hit and miss type of fishing. One day the fishing is good the next could be hard, I know crazy. Yesterday, Saturday one of my friends, Tom W. from the coast brought up a couple of his friends to fish from South Fork down to Big Rock and they did fairly well by landing a couple of bright steelies and broke off several big fat ones. They had fun! The rafters that were in front of them didn’t hook any adults but hooked some smolt. That is the status of fishing the Trinity for right now. I do know that New River and several other fresh flowing streams are starting to see some spawning and that is a good sign!
Upper Klamath fish video counts, Julian week 5 ending Feb. 4: Bogus Creek, Chinook salmon 0, total 974; Coho 0, total 56; Scott River, Chinook salmon 0, total 1,565, Coho 0, total 369; Shasta River, Chinook salmon 0, total 5,867, Coho 0, total 66.
Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath at Weitchpec is flowing about 9,336 cfs. There has been some fair to good fishing above Orleans up to Happy Camp but I have not received very much information about fishing in that section of the river. The Upper Klamath above I-5 should be in great fishing condition because the Iron Gate releases have dropped down to 949 cfs. A good place to find out about the I-5 to Iron Gate section is contact Scott Caldwell through SC Guide service as Scott keeps pretty good tabs on the flows and fishing in that area.
Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 86 percent of capacity (no change) with inflows of 297 cfs and releasing 304 cfs on to Keswick and the Sacramento River. Shasta Lake is 77 percent of capacity (an increase of 1 percent, plus 1 foot) with inflows of 6,446 cfs and releasing 3,455 cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 86 percent (a decrease of 1 percent) with inflows of 3,866 cfs and releasing 3,929 cfs into the Sacramento River. Lake Oroville is 63 percent of capacity (an increase of 3 percent, plus 1 foot) with inflows of 2,112 cfs with releases of 531 cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 50 percent of capacity (an increase of 1 percent, plus 1 foot) with inflows of 1,722 cfs and releases of 1,853 cfs into the American River.
Trinity Lake: The lake is 28 feet below the overflow (a decrease of 2 feet) and 81 percent of capacity (an increase of 1 percent) and inflows of 4,222 cfs and releasing 282 cfs into Lewiston Lake with 28 cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 3,929 cfs into the Sacramento River.
Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Lake is 95 percent of capacity (a decrease of 4 percent) and water releases are 293 cfs with water temperature of 41.7 degrees, as of 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9. Limekiln Gulch is 4.75ft and flowing 343 cfs. Douglas City is 6.43ft with flows of 413 cfs with water temperature of 42.6 degrees. Junction City is 1.98ft and flowing 455 cfs. Helena is 8.90ft and flowing 631 cfs with water temps of 41.7 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 4.06ft and flowing 1,093 cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 3.88ft and flowing 720 cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 1,836 cfs with air temps of 50 degrees and water at 42.8 degrees. Hoopa is 14.27ft and flowing 3,174 cfs with water at 44 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath are estimated to be 9,336 cfs.
Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 949 cfs. Seiad Valley is 3.16ft flowing 1,955 cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 2,306 cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 4,518 cfs, and the Salmon River is 3.60ft flowing at 1,634 cfs. Orleans is 5.51ft and flowing 6,162 cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 12.13ft with flows of 12,608 cfs and water temp is 45.7 degrees, a decrease of 1.4 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jedia Smith are 7.78ft with flows of 2,623 cfs, and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are at 14.26ft.