Steelhead Fly Fishing
If there was ever a ‘perfect’ river for fly fishing may be the Trinity River in California isn’t on that list, but more than any river we know of, it’s the one river that redefines other rivers. Originating high up in the Scott Mountains, high above Trinity Lake, the waters of this river exit Lewiston Dam, traveling through the California towns of Lewiston, Douglas City, Junction City, Helena and past the N. Fork of the Trinity. Steelhead, King Salmon, Silver Salmon and some Brown Trout are found in this river. Anglers, rafters, and kayakers enjoy 165 miles of pure ‘steelhead water’ before the Trinity passes the N. Fork of the Trinity at Helena and travels through canyons, waterfalls, rapids before meeting the main stem of the Klamath at Weitchpec.
Travis Ortiz of Cal Fly Guy knows the entire length of this great Steelhead stream. Some of the best water for accessibility and productive year-round fishing is found between Lewiston, CA. and the North Fork of the Trinity River. We call this area the “Upper Trinity”. That’s 36 miles of the best Steelhead water found within an hour of Redding, California.
When To Go
Steelhead start to show up on the Upper Trinity in late August, although anglers can expect to find Steelhead year round. Reliable numbers of Steelhead move through the upper Trinity from October all the way through March and even April. These are migratory fish. They are on a mission to move up the Trinity all the way from the Pacific Ocean. Steelhead move through the Trinity just like people drive along Interstate 5. These fish are not inclined to reside in the Trinity. Instead, they move up into tributaries like Rush Creek, Weaver Creek, Grass Valley Creek and others to spawn and recreate what nature has deemed right.
There’s a Federally run fish hatchery at Lewiston California hence the Lewiston Fish Hatchery. Many of the Steelhead and Salmon Travis finds while guiding the Trinity are from the hatchery and guests are welcome to take their limit home or to one of the local restaurants where the river’s bounty is enjoyed by all.
Beginners And Experts
Expert and intermediate anglers love this river because it is a challenge to fish and the Steelhead are a process in dedication and perseverance to find on the end of your fly rod. Travis entertains beginning anglers on the Trinity but also wants new anglers to understand that the Triniy isn’y as forgiving as the Lower Sac. Newer anglers can get into fish and they do! But it’s newer anglers that have the most to learn in a very short winter day. All anglers are welcome and encouraged to spend a day on this beautiful and most amazing river.
Rain Is Good
Anglers should expect to fish in the rain, snow. The best experiences, the most epic of fishing tales, coincide with adverse weather. Yes, sometimes it’s the weather that produced those stories of frozen hands and wet clothing and icy roads, but most often it’s the incredible fishing experiences that go hand-in-fin with wet, volatile weather. Why? As the river rises due to rain run-off, Steelhead and Salmon start to move upstream. So, instead of wandering around the river or floating all day looking in every riffle, run, pool for fish, one can expect to sit in one ideal spot, all day, as a parade of fish averaging 8lbs swim by on their way to countless tributaries or the Lewiston Fish Hatchery. The key is, you have to know the right spots. The best situation is a spot where the fish must squeeze through a vent or a tiny riffle. Anglers can wade the run, casting into the waters. There are days where the hook-ups come about every 15 minutes. Sore arms are the norm. And warm Chili served riverside can take the edge off the cold. There’s nothing to complain about when Steelhead are on the bite.
Gear You Need
Travis recommends 9.6 6wt on the lightest end of the spectrum of fly rods. If you do get into a fish over 10lbs, you’ll be happy, but also slightly compromised. A 9′ 7wt or 8wt is ideal. Floating lines are best all-around for swinging flies or drifting nymphs under indicators. Skagit lines no doubt work well for switch rods and single handers looking to swing bigger -water rather than suspend flies under indicators. All methods are productive on this river. Travis recommends using the technique you are most familiar with.
Clothing is the key to staying comfortable. Winter is the most popular time on this river. Morning temperatures routinely drop into the mid 20°F/-6°C. Anglers wearing a Polar Tech® base layer under Fleece and an outer Gortex® shell will stay warm. A Fleece hat is a must! Gloves seem to just get wet as anglers strip in wet fly line over and over as the river is plied for fish. Expect hand to get cold. It’s nice to have a selection of Chemical Heat Packs stuffed in your pockets that provide instant warmth for wet hands.
For the hardcore steelheader, neoprene boot-foot waders, lined with Thinsulate in the boot offer max comfort in the worst conditons the Trinity can dish out. It is awesome having warm feet!
Most days are sunny with daytime highs closing in on the low 50°F/10°C. Expect warmer daytime highs by February as the days get longer and the sun gets higher.
A Day On The Trinity
You will meet your guide, Travis Ortiz in Weaverville, Lewiston or at Indian Creek Lodge. He will arrange the meet time and location with you prior to your trip. Guests should expect to float the river all day. All guests riding in the boat must obtain a Fishing License, Steelhead Report Card and if fishing for Salmon, a Salmon Report Card. Fishing Licenses and Steelhead Report Cards can be purchased at your local sporting goods store, The Fly Shop in Redding Ca, or online at The Department Of Fish And Wildlife. When purchasing online, allow more than 15 days for processing report cards.
How To Book
Call Travis at (661) 478-8784