HEAT – SMOKE – FIRE – EVACUATION
Not fun! First, we had 100 plus weather, then heavy smoke, so thick we could hardly see across the river, then came the Knob Fire that got within five blocks of our property and we had to evacuate. So, there you have my story and the reason you have not had any fishing reports. With all of the above happening the opening of Fall Chinook salmon fishing along the Trinity River and affecting the Mid-Klamath section of the Klamath River was a partial flop. We also had to deal with very low salmon quotas this year and very low warm water on both the Klamath and Trinity. We still don’t have full unobstructed travel on Hwy 299 yet to reach the Upper Trinity. On top of all these obstacles the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region closed public access to the Forests which stopped river access for fishing. This is crazy, how does one go fishing if one can not get to the river. Down at the mouth of the Klamath the public was able to launch their boats and drive up the river to fish but around here and down at Weitchpec you had to be able to go across private property or the Reservations. This should only be done with permission! I hope the CDFW will extend the time estimate for Fall Chinook salmon quotas on the Upper Klamath and Trinity Rivers so that we can at least go fishing to ty and catch a salmon.
The Trinity water flow increases are now retreating and the river is coming back into good fishing conditions but the Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity Forests are still closed to public access and it is hard to find a place to fish. When I got back from evacuation, I heard that some fishermen had caught some small adult steelhead and jacks at Weitchpec but I don’t know where. With the cool water flush there should be a nice push of fresh salmon moving up the rivers and into the Trinity. I sure hope so! The big trouble is there is no place one can camp along the Trinity because the Monument Fire is still burning. I am trying to get down to the Willow Creek Weir to see if they are able to do any trapping and counting of fish. I received a note with my weir trapping list that said the CDFW suspended trapping at Junction City and Willow Creek weir because heavy smoke.
Lower Klamath Creel Survey: Julian Week 36 ending Sep. 9,2021 for Fall Run Chinook salmon for below Hwy 101 Bridge; 0-jack, 13-adults, total 13, season total 389. Chinook salmon for above Hwy 101 Bridge; 314-jacks, 272-adults total 586, season total 1,547.
Junction City weir summary: Julian week 35 ending the week of Sep. 2, 2021 for Spring-Run Chinook salmon; 10 – jacks, 20 – adults, total of 30, season total of 1,070; Coho salmon, 0 jacks, season total 0, 0 adults, season total 0; steelhead, 0- 1/2lber, 4- adults, for total of 4, season total 74; Brown trout 0, season total 6. Note: even though the fire and smoke were along the river there was a nice bump of springer’s going up to the Hatchery.
Willow Creek weir summary: Due to the Fire and smoke the CDFW were unable to work the weir.
Upper Klamath summary:
Fishing: Temperatures have cooled down but look to be on the rise for next week. The smoke is clearing some and the river looks fishable but the Forest Service has the Forests close for right now so access to the river for fishing is very limited. I am looking at the river here at my house and it looks like I might be able to try some fishing in the morning. We will see.
Mid-Klamath to Happy Camp: The Klamath River at Weitchpec is flowing 2,017cfs. This is a decrease of 103cfs. Iron Gate Dam is releasing 1,052cfs. With the increase in water releases from Iron Gate Dam the Upper Klamath should be very good fly fishing for trout and the possibility of hooking a Fall Chinook salmon or two. One might even be able hook a steelhead, that would be nice. Here again access is going to be a problem. I hope to have better news for next week, let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best. If the Forests don’t open soon, I would suggest that the different fishing groups and fishermen demand the refund of their fishing license and harvest tags! I plan on having more on this in the next column.
Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 99% of capacity (an increase of 0%) with inflows of 1,349cfs and releasing 1,222cfs in to Spring Creek. Shasta Lake is 25% of capacity (a decrease of 3% minus 10ft) with inflows of 3,310cfs and releasing 5,311cfs into Keswick. Keswick is 90% (a decrease of 3%) with inflows of 6,784cfs and releasing 6,824cfs into the Sacramento River. Oroville Lake is 22% of capacity (a decrease of 1% minus 3ft) with inflows of 1,281cfs with releases of 1,513cfs into the Feather River. Folsom Lake is 24% of capacity (a decrease of 0% minus 1ft) with inflows of 607cfs with releases of 697cfs into the American river. Many of the lakes and reservoirs are at their lowest they have ever been. When we were evacuated from the fire we stayed at our son’s place in Lakeport at Clear Lake and as we came back hoe we passed Mendocino Lake and all you could see was the Russian River and a large puddle at the dam.
Trinity Lake: The lake is 139ft below the overflow (a decrease of 11ft) and 33% of capacity (an increase of 3%) with inflows of 9cfs and releasing 1,797cfs into Lewiston Lake with 1,336cfs being diverted to Whiskeytown Lake and on to Keswick Power Plant, which is releasing 6,824cfs into the Sacramento River.
Trinity River flows and conditions: Lewiston Dam is 91% of capacity (a decrease of 3%) and water releases are 461cfs into the Trinity River, with water temperatures of 51.5 degrees, as of 12:00pm today Sunday September 12, 2021. Limekiln Gulch is 4.95ft at 453cfs. Douglas City is 12.31ft with flows of 8,755cfs with air temps of N/A and water temperatures of N/A degrees (this could possibly be a gauge malfunction). Junction City is 1.52ft at 463cfs. Helena is 8.53ft at 505cfs with water temps of 57.8 degrees. Cedar Flat (Burnt Ranch) is 2.72ft at 527cfs. South Fork of the Trinity near Hyampom is 1.88ft at 28cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 555cfs and air is 77 degrees and water at 61.3 degrees. Hoopa is 11.24ft at 660cfs and water is 64.3 degrees. Water flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at the Klamath in Weitchpec are estimated to be 2,017cfs an increase of 14cfs.
Klamath River flows and conditions: Iron Gate is releasing 1,052cfs. Seiad Valley is 1.96ft at 1,076cfs. Indian Creek is 3.12ft at 48cfs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,124cfs, Somes Bar is estimated to be 1,248cfs, and the Salmon River is 1.29ft at 111cfs. Orleans is 1.03ft at 1,359cfs, the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 8.08ft at 2,366cfs and water temps are 66 degrees. Flows for the Smith River at Jed Smith are 4.37ft with flows of 166cfs. and flows at Dr. Fine Bridge are 11.41 ft at N/A cfs.
Temperatures for the Valley last week had a high of 97 and a low of 52 degrees. Rain for the week was 0.01in with a water year total to date of 45.12 inches and 1.5in of snow in Willow Creek. The predicted weather for next week is high of991 and a low of 52. The predicted weather for next week is expected to go up again for the first part of the week then start to cool down again. (I hope so) Fishing has been crazy with all the smoke and fire plus the Forest closures for the opening of Fall Chinook salmon season. They need to get fires under control to open the Forests so we can have access to the rivers again to fish.