Not fun! First, we had 100-plus-degree weather, then heavy smoke, so thick we could hardly see across the river, then came the Knob fire that got within five blocks of our property and we had to evacuate. So, there you have my story and the reason you have not had any fishing reports.
With all of the above happening the opening of fall chinook salmon fishing along the Trinity River and the mid-section of the Klamath River was a partial flop. We also had to deal with very low salmon quotas this year and very low, warm water on both the Klamath and Trinity. We still don’t have full unobstructed travel on Highway 299 yet to reach the upper Trinity. On top of all these obstacles the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region closed public access to the national forests which stopped much river access for fishing.
This is crazy, how does one go fishing if one cannot get to the river? Down at the mouth of the Klamath the public was able to launch their boats and power up the river to fish, but around here and down at Weitchpec you had to be able to go across private property or the tribal reservations. This should only be done with permission! I hope the CDFW will extend the time estimate for fall chinook salmon quotas on the upper Klamath and Trinity rivers so that we can at least go fishing to try and catch a salmon.
The Trinity water flow increases are now retreating and the river is coming back into good fishing conditions, but the Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity national forests are still closed to public access and it is hard to find a place to fish. When I got back from evacuation, I heard that some fishermen had caught some small adult steelhead and jacks at Weitchpec, but I don’t know where. With the cool water flush there should be a nice push of fresh salmon moving up the rivers and into the Trinity. I sure hope so!
The big trouble is there is no place one can camp along the Trinity River because the Monument fire is still burning. I am trying to get down to the Willow Creek Weir to see if they are able to do any trapping and counting of fish. I received a note with my weir trapping list that said the CDFW suspended trapping at Junction City and Willow Creek weirs because of heavy smoke.
Lower Klamath Creel Survey, Julian Week 36 ending Sept. 9: Fall run chinook salmon for below the Highway 101 Bridge, 0 jacks, 13 adults, total 13, season total 389; above the Highway 101 Bridge, 314 jacks, 272 adults total 586, season total 1,547.
Junction City Weir summary, Julian week 35 ending the week of Sept. 2: Spring run chinook salmon, 10 jacks, 20 adults, total 30, season total of 1,070; Coho salmon, 0 jacks, season total 0, 0 adults, season total 0; steelhead; half-pounders, 4 adults, for total of 4, season total 74; Brown trout 0, season total 6. Note: even though the fire and smoke were along the river there was a nice bump of springers going up to the Hatchery.
Willow Creek weir summary: Due to the fire and smoke the CDFW were unable to work the weir.
Fishing: Temperatures have cooled down but look to be on the rise for next week. The smoke is clearing some and the river looks fishable but the Forest Service has the forests closed for right now so access to the river for fishing is very limited. I am looking at the river here at my house and it looks like I might be able to try some fishing in the morning. We will see.
Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing 2,017 cfs, a decrease of 103 cfs. Iron Gate Dam is releasing 1,052 cfs. With the increase in water releases from Iron Gate Dam the upper Klamath should be very good fly fishing for trout and the possibility of hooking a fall chinook salmon or two. One might even be able hook a steelhead, that would be nice. Here again access is going to be a problem. I hope to have better news for next week; let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. If the forests don’t open soon, I would suggest that the different fishing groups and fishermen demand the refund of their fishing license and harvest tags!
Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 99% of capacity (no change) with inflows of 1,349 cfs and releasing 1,222 cfs into Spring Creek. Shasta Lake is 25% of capacity (a decrease of 3%, minus 10 feet) with inflows of 3,310 cfs and releasing 5,311 cfs into Keswick. Keswick is at 90% (a decrease of 3%) with inflows of 6,784 cfs and releasing 6,824 cfs into the Sacramento River. Lake Oroville is 22% of capacity (a decrease of 1%, minus 3 feet) with inflows of 1,281 cfs with releases of 1,513 cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 24% of capacity (minus 1 foot) with inflows of 607 cfs with releases of 697 cfs into the American River. Many of the lakes and reservoirs are at their lowest they have ever been. When we were evacuated from the fire we stayed at our son’s place in Lakeport at Clear Lake and as we came back home we passed Mendocino Lake and all you could see was the Russian River and a large puddle at the dam.
Trinity Lake: The lake is 139ft below the overflow (a decrease of 11 feet) and 33% of capacity with inflows of 9 cfs and releasing 1,797 cfs into Lewiston Lake with 1,336 cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant.
Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Lake is 91% of capacity (a decrease of 3%) and water releases are 461 cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperature of 51.5 degrees as of noon Sunday, Sept. 12. Limekiln Gulch is 4.95ft at 453 cfs. Junction City is 1.52ft at 463 cfs. Helena is 8.53ft at 505 cfs with water temp of 57.8 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 2.72ft at 527 cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 1.88ft at 28 cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 555 cfs and water at 61.3 degrees. Hoopa is 11.24ft at 660 cfs and water is 64.3 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 2,017 cfs, an increase of 14 cfs.
Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 1,052 cfs. Seiad Valley is 1.96ft at 1,076 cfs. Indian Creek is 3.12ft at 48 cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,124 cfs. Somes Bar is estimated to be 1,248 cfs. The Salmon River is 1.29ft at 111 cfs. Orleans is 1.03ft at 1,359 cfs. The Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 8.08ft at 2,366 cfs and water temp is 66 degrees.