Trinity River, Northern Calif. report - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-02-2012, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Trinity River, Northern Calif. report

Just got back from my first steelhead trip. I had posted a question on the tackle forum asking for advice on "extra" stuff (other than rods, reels and flies). Thanks to all the people who answered I was well prepared for my trip.

I drove in from having skied for several days in Mammoth. I got in late in the evening on sunday and checked into Indian creek lodge (Nice place, fun people, great price).

Day 1

Next morning I woke up to find the trinity running right through the backyard. Having never steelheaded before I drove to the Trinity fly shop to get some info from the staff.

After picking up a map of the area and having a few spots pointed out to me, I drove to a spot and waded out and started practicing my spey casts. Lets just say watching videos and an hour or two of practice by no means makes you good. After an hour of embarrassing casting I started putting together some decent casts.

Later on I drove to a run that actually had potential of holding fish and started to swing some flies. I worked at it for several hours and then called it a day.

Day 2
Went out with a guide. Met up with Gabe Duran (highly recommend him!) to drift the trinity. We had chatted beforehand and I made sure to tell him I am new and have no clue what to do but that I wanted to get some instruction on swinging a fly and spey casting along with everything else he would teach me.

What I did learn early in my day is that the trinity has very few runs that actually were good swinging water. Mostly they nymph there. My roll casting improved quickly with good instruction from Gabe. At about noon I hooked with with my first steelhead! After a fun fight the fish was released to hopefully produce thousands more. Later on we got two more on the nymph rig. We moved into a new run and swung flies for about an hour. Gabe was able to help me with the spey cast and work on the presentation. I have to think if a fish was there and willing to play we would have gotten him.

Pulling out the boat and getting dropped off rounded out the day.

Day 3
after packing up I drove to a spot that held several good runs. I continued to work at spey casting and swinging a wet fly until some bait casters walked into my run. They stepped into my swing and threw over my fly without even asking if it was okay. I stepped out of the run and walked back to the head of the run. The bait casters spread out up the run right into where I was going to cast so I decided to leave. Hopefully Karma has a sense of humor and they hook themselves on a cast. I would have no problem sharing a run but to step in below me and then move up into me when I moved to give them room seemed rude to me. At that point it was after 1pm and I had set 2pm as me time to leave for home so I decided to forgo moving to a new spot and just leave.

Things I learned:
I had no idea where the high probability spots were. When we would pass by a spot I would say to Gabe, "why don't we fish there?" Gabe would reassure me that there MIGHT be fish there but we would pass it up to go to a higher probability spot. Most importantly I learned how important boulders (or what Gabe called "nuggets") are to steelhead.

Spey casting is super fun.

No matter how warmly you dress it can still get cold. I think that its best to set a limit of 1 hour to work a run and then move on and warm up.

Blackberry bushes SUCK! They are everywhere.

Trinity is a tough wading river. Partially due to the blackberries (see above) and partially due to the depth of the water.

I need to go with guides more often. He taught me more in 10 minutes than hours of videos can teach.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-02-2012, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Forgot to post some pics. I also shot a underwater video of a release. I'll try to edit it and get it up today or tomorrow.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-02-2012, 09:31 PM
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Great report

Great report, beautiful pictures, and that is a nice fish!

Yes, I think we all have had experience the poor considerations, and the usual best task is to watch-wait, possibly speak up, but be prepare to walk out.

I have not had a bad guide, but some better than others for my needs. If you find a guide that can do what is good for you, cherish them. I like a guide who can help my casting, and fishing, and not just get me into fish.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-02-2012, 10:56 PM
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Great report! Trinity used to be one of my favorite to spend days chasing the fall run, usually Aug - Nov. I like the lower stretches of the river, downstream of where the South Fork joins the main stem, as I only swing wets and dries when going after the steelies. There are many runs that are suitable for Spey casting and swinging flies down there.

As you found out, it's a popular river among gear fishers. Especially if you fish popular runs where the fish tend to pile up, you would find lots of companions blasting lures and flies-on-floating-weight right next to you, even if you get to the run first. I was really annoyed at first, but sort of got used to it, since they just do not understand that we like to have lots of space. They were usually friendly and were trying to avoid hooking my fly line as best they could. So, once I got used to it, I began walking into the crowd of gear fishers in my favorite runs, and did my own thing among them. They were usually nice and gave me space to fish among them (and even cheered and took photos of me holding a fish when I caught one!) So, if you can, try to have a bit different mind-set when you fish the Trinity. Back then, I mostly fished with a single-hander, since my only double-hander was a 14' 9wt which was way too powerful to enjoy the Trinity fish. I would say that you would probably do very well in the lower stretches with a 11' to 13' 5/6/7wt, using a Scandi head system.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-02-2012, 11:02 PM
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Nice Report and congratulations on the fish... The Trinity does indeed have some epic swing water but you just have to go further downstream and get out of the flotilla of boats throwing bobbers. If you get a chance to return to the Trinity, i Highly recommend a trip in October or November to swing flies between Willow Creek and Big Bar... This is vintage fishing on the Trinity, which has unfortunately been taken over by bobbers.
The Trinity is the Best place in California to fish for steelhead with a skater or popper.
As far as gear fisherman, they will low hole you everywhere. I was on the SF Eel today and had a gear fisherman step out right below as i was coming into the tailout. His demeanor was very polite and asked me how my day was going etc... Some of them just don't "get it".
Hope you can get back sometime to swing the bigger water of the Trinity during the fall.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-03-2012, 12:31 AM
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Man, I miss that river. Glad you had a great time. From the pics, it looks like you were fishing Douglas City area. I have some favorite spots around there.

I moved to E. WA a couple of years ago, but I was in Redding this past Nov. for a few days and managed to get over to the Trinity for a few hours one morning. I hooked two Steelies swinging with my switch rod. What a blast. I love that river.

Thanks for the report. Nice job.
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