Klamath, Trinity, Upper & Lower Sacramento Rivers
December 15, 2013
We had a record breaking two day storm hit late last week blowing out everything except the Klamath River which continues to amaze us with both numbers and the size of steelhead this season. As a result several of our guests enjoyed the best steelhead fishing of their lives. The Trinity, Lower Sacramento & Upper Sacramento rivers blew out completely with the Upper Sac raising from a couple thousand cubic feet per second (555 cfs is the median) to 30,000 cfs overnight. Fortunately the water in Dunsmuir stayed within the banks and no major damage was reported.
Flows have dropped significantly in the past few days and with only a few smaller storms in the forecast fishing should return to normal winter conditions. The Lower Sacramento River continues to experience silting from Lake Shasta and it could be sometime before it clears more than the foot or two we have had. The Trinity started fishing fair to good prior to the storm and could be a good bet for those wishing to visit during the holidays as flows drop and clear.
Flows from Iron Gate on the Klamath have been very low, clear and steady at 950 cfs which is half the norm. Water clarity has been three to five feet which has created ideal conditions and an exceptional bite. Flows on the Trinity have remained at 300 cfs at Lewiston, which is the norm but blew up to 5,500 during the storm at Junction City. Flows have dropped back to 792 cfs at Junction City with the norm at 500. With showers in the forecast for the rest of the week and sun on the horizon for the weekend and next week, we hope to experience some fresh fish and a much improved bite.
Releases out of Keswick on the Lower Sac are currently at 4,000 cfs, dropping from 8,000 on December 11th, with flow changes scheduled to drop to 3,250 tomorrow. The mean is 5,790 and the median 8,190 cfs so the fish will packed tight. Prior to the storm fishing was just fair with poor days outnumbering great days as water clarity has ranged from 1-3 feet (wind was an issue as well) though a few nice fish were found.
On the Klamath, both nymphers and swingers have been enjoying great steelhead fishing. Several large fish have shown recently, which is typical this time of year, thound most adult steelhead are running in the 2 to 5 lb range. We are only finding a few half pounders remaining but they have been bright and hot! The word is out so the river has seen more than its share of traffic. For those nymphing, legs and eggs have been the top producers. Swinging flies continues to find fish, last week (prior to the storm) we even hooked a fish on a Muddler fished on an intermediate tip and raised a fish to a foam skater! We have primarily gone to sink tips with small leech and Intruder style patterns. For details on tactics, techniques and flies, check out our post on Fly Fishing the Klamath in Winter, first published in California Fly Fisher magazine.
The good news is that with one of the better run in years, and this big storm the tough technical fishing on the Trinity is a thing of the past. More water usually means fresh fish which tend to be better biters. With only a few light storms in the forecast the fish should get back on the grab and we could be seeing some great days coming this winter as well. Eggs, stonefly nymphs, PT’s and Copper Johns have all found fish. A few folks swung successfully for fish just before the storm.
The Upper Sacramento River blew out bigger than most can imagine. Flows have already dropped significantly and with colder weather and only light storms flows should drop and stabilize making the river fishable over the holidays. For more on fishing the Upper Sac in Winter check out our articles first published in California Fly Fisher, Winter Angling on the Upper Sac & Year Round Angling on the Upper Sac.
The Lower Sac continues to be a hit and miss affair with poor water clarity and low flows. The great days of fall have passed and the winter bite will be tighter. We are looking forward to some fair weather next week would should improve the fishing, perhaps more than the catching, but a sunny day on the Lower Sac and a few fish to net is always a great escape from the craziness the holidays can sometimes bring.
Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season. For the latest on conditions please drop us a line. We are always happy to point you in a direction you might enjoy whether you are seeking guide service or not, we hope to see you soon!