Trinity River Steelhead Fishing in California


From the Field – By Darren Taylor

I wrapped up the year making a trip to California to do some steelhead fishing and spend time with family. I arrived in Sacramento December 30, got my rental car and headed north on I-5 for a two and a half hour drive. On my way up I spoke with my fishing buddy Nick, we set our plans for the next day to meet up on the west side of Redding and then head up to the Trinity River. I made it up to my mom’s house where I grew up. It was great seeing her; I hadn’t seen her for a year. We ate one of her great home cooked meals, had some desert visited for awhile and then I was ready for some sleep.

The next morning I woke at 5a.m. to meet Nick on the other side of town for a day on the Trinity, we jumped in his truck and 45 minutes later we arrived. There was a beautiful dusting of snow from the night before. We got our waders on, geared up and started up the river.

California had been getting slammed with rain, so I wasn’t sure if it was going to be blown out or not. Our plan was to fish the upper end where there is more controlled water. Being closer to the dam there would be less run off and other creeks adding to it. The area we went didn’t look too bad. We decided to head up river and work our way back down. After walking for a while we were getting anxious to get in the water, so we stopped at one of Nicks favorite holes and I’m glad we did. Nick set me up in the right spot and we started making our drifts. After about five drifts I moved out a little farther in the water. There was a pretty good current going and the water was a little stained, so it made walking tough. Falling is always a possibility, especially with all the big rocks and ledges. I almost went for a swim quite a few times. I’m sure glad I didn’t, that water was down in the forties.

I made my way out to a shelf in the middle of the river, so I could get a little higher vantage point and I was also able to get a drift over towards the other side in a good seam. It all paid off, my indicator went down and this time there was a solid hook up. The fish came towards me and I started moving back to help catch up with the line, luckily when I started back I didn’t step off into a hole. I didn’t get any jumps out of this fish but he did put up a great fight. Nick helped me land it and I heard him say it was a native steelhead. By the way I caught it on Jeremy Hunt’s Miracle Fly.

It was really cool catching a native steelhead. The fish have not been thriving in California Rivers for quite some time. There have been many factors that have damaged the rivers and depleted the supply of fish. I do believe there are some hatcheries working hard to restore the rivers. So many of the fish you will see in the Trinity have the rear dorsal fin cut off, which tells me their hatchery is doing a great job of replenishing the fish.

We took a few pics and then Nick hooked a nice fish, it was pulling and stripping out line, then it made a b-line towards the trees along the shore. Nick finally got it in and it was a good one. It was the first nice sized brown he had caught while steelhead fishing on the Trinity. We sat and discussed whether or not it was a sea run brown. Some say that they are sea run browns, but Nick mentioned that he doesn’t know of anyone that has caught one closer to the ocean, so it may just be that the browns are in there year round. It would be nice if they could implement a brown hatchery to increase fishing all year round, it is definitely a beautiful river.

We decided to walk up farther and fish some other holes and had no luck, so we went back down to the honey hole. The water had gone up a little, but I didn’t find out until I started going out to the shelf I was on before. I quickly found out that it was too high. I started moving my way back but struggled due to the current, so I quickly started bouncing down stream towards the shore. Luckily it didn’t drop off. I started to cast again and my line got tangled up, while I was working on that Nick hooked into a nice steelhead.

We decided to head down river about ten miles to a place we fished last year. After getting down there the water was too high, so we headed up to Lewiston which is closer to the dam. We worked our way down below the steel bridge. Nick started fishing the first hole and I went on down to the next. I just started to fish and I heard Nick yell. I ran back up stream and Nick had hooked another steelhead, so I got some video footage and a few good pictures. We fished our way down a little farther then we started to make the long walk back. We had covered quite a few miles and fished a lot of water, what a great way to spend the last day of 2010.

Well I had planned on fishing some more that week, but I ended up getting really sick, so I was not able to. I did get a lot of quality time with my mom and it was great spending time with my family.

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~ by troutdoctor101 on January 22, 2011.

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