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Trinity River: , by Drew Griffith: Dog Days: 3 stars

Last week I made a day out of scouting some runs on the Trinity River. After spending three consecutive summers in Alaska, I've missed out on the early part of the summer steelhead run back home on the North Coast. While I'm not sure how much I've missed setting my alarm clock to 4:00AM in hopes of being on the water as early in the morning as possible, I've sorely missed being able to swing a fly through some of my favorite water during the dog days of late summer. I was able to make it up the winding 299 from the coast before the sun had broken over the ridgeline, but was dissapointed to find a valley devoid of any morning fog. Also a surprise was to see the Willow Creek Valley smoke free on the morning I went up. There are two major fires burning in the hills between the Hoopa Valley and the Salmon River drainage; the Red Salmon complex. For this reason Big Rock river access in Willow Creek has been completely shut down for Heli fire crews. During past fire seasons they have allowed limited public access, leaving the boat launch open, but not this year. You cannot even park on the road and walk in to reach the river. I was able to walk into another favorite run a little further up river, and was greeted with water that felt very warm for such an early hour in the morning. Heading up river from WC I made a quick stop at the S. Fork confluence and was somewhat relieved to find the water noticably colder just above the confluence. I made my last few honest attempts to swing one up proper on the floating line with a traditional bug, but by 10:30 am with the sun racing high above the canyon walls, the Scandi head was off. The Skagit head and tip were on. Driving further up river through the gorge I ran into the mother of all road construction projects. It seems like the 299 is one of the worst local highways to be affected by this perenial annoyance, and this season will be no exception. Around Burnt Ranch one can expect delays of up to an hour while work crews install new caging to the cliff face to keep rock falls from impacting the roadway. By 12:30pm the temperature was on a steady rise and the sun was directly overhead. I knew I had to find some heavy fast water if I wanted to eek out a shot at a fish. I got lucky walking into a spot I'd never been to before, finding the water I thought would be most productive during this time of day. I few casts later and I was rewarded by a spitfire of a half pounder. A nice wild fish, just starting to display it's full array of rainbow coloration. Not bad. The water temps felt significantly colder the higher I went. I didn't carry a thermometer with me, but I would guess that they ranged somewhere in the low 60's to high 50's above the S.Fork confluence. Flows were stable just below 500 CFS and all the wading I did felt completely manageable (although I was in a bathing suit so there wasn't much at risk if I did fall in.) With one of the worst fire seasons already off to an early start here in California we will all have to hope for the best that the Trinity and Klamath do not see the destruction that has visited them in the past. For now, the crowds have yet to descend on the river en masse, and for a lucky few there are some fish around. Best fishing times are going to be by first light and last. Bring a scandi rig for the beginning and end of the day, and a skagit head for the constant mid day thermals.

Tight lines out there! 

Beautiful spectrum on this one. Just don't tell him he's not a grown up yet!
Beautiful spectrum on this one. Just don't tell him he's not a grown up yet!
My summer run fly box. All the best traditional offerings on tap.
My summer run fly box. All the best traditional offerings on tap.
High noon in the canyon.
High noon in the canyon.
Next 10 open days for Drew Griffith: Dec 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
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