Denis Peirce: Steelhead still hot on Trinity |

Denis Peirce: Steelhead still hot on Trinity

I am always sorry to see October end. It is arguably the best month of the year for fishing. The residual heat of summer keeps the days warm even though we have the same number of daylight hours as in late February. The loss of daylight savings time ends the prospect of fishing after work for most of us.

The hottest steelhead fishing in the state continues to be on the Trinity River. The fish counts from the Willow Creek weir tell the story. For the four weeks between Sept. 23 and Oct. 21 the steelhead counted passing the weir totaled 2,500 fish. Eight hundred of those were the final week of Oct. 14-21.

These numbers are much more impressive when you realize that the weir is operated intermittently and only counts 5 to 10 percent of the fish moving upriver. This puts the up river migration at 12,000 to 25,000 for the four week period. These numbers are almost a three fold increase from last year. Seventy-nine percent of these fish are hatchery origin.

The months of September and October are the peak months for the return of hatchery raised fish. The native run fish resulting from in stream spawning, return from mid-November through January after the rains have raised river levels. These native run fish are larger and it will be interesting to see if the numbers are up as much as the hatchery fish.

The adult salmon run on the Trinity for this year is 54 percent below last year based on the weir count. The silver lining to these numbers is that the “jacks”, second-year immature fish, are in good numbers. The jack count is one of the harbingers of the salmon return for third and fourth year fish from the same age class. This bodes well for the Klamath/Trinity salmon runs in 2007 and 2008.

The steelhead fishing in the Feather and Yuba rivers is slow for this time of year. There are fish in the system but it is tough fishing.

I have been looking for an upturn in coho, silver salmon action on Lake Oroville. I got a report last week from Hal McVey after a day fishing on the lake. The water surface temp is 62 degrees and the water temp is virtually unchanged down to a depth of 60 feet. Hal caught a 21-inch salmon at a depth of 85 feet using a down rigger. The keys to this fishery is to get down below the warm layer of water and locate schools of the pond smelt. Find the food and you will find the fish. The action is not yet a red hot bite. When the lake turns over this fishery will take off.

For you river salmon anglers, the Sacramento River is still the best bet. There are not lots of fish but those that are caught are big. The best area close to home is from Colusa down to Knights Ferry. Farther down stream the water in the delta has been cooling to the low 60s, and the salmon catching in the Sacramento River from the capital city to the Carquinez Straits has been fair. Silvertron spinners and Blue Fox spinners are the lures of choice.

Wednesday, Nov. 1, will be the next meeting of the Gold Country Fly Fishers at Seaman’s Lodge, Pioneer Park in Nevada City.

The featured speaker will be Andy Burk. Andy is a well-known angler and fly designer. The evening will start with Andy demonstrating the tying of some of his patterns at 6:30, prior to the meeting. The business meeting will be at 7 p.m. with the program at 8 p.m.

The program will feature a presentation on “Czech Nymphing”. This technique was developed in the Czech Republic and involves fishing multiple weighted nymphs, casting upstream and leading them down with your line. It is a deep nymphing alternative to using floats. The technique has been winning many of the European Fly Fishing Competitions. The program will prove informative to all skill levels. Any interested anglers are welcome to attend this meeting.


Denis Peirce writes a weekly fishing column for The Union and is host of “The KNCO Fishing & Outdoor Report,” which airs 6-7 p.m. Fridays and 5-6 a.m. Saturdays on 830-AM radio. He may be reached via e-mail at

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