Although good to great fly fishing can be found in the riffles, runs and crystal clear pools of the Trinity River all year long, it’s the Winter months where arguably the best fly fishing for Steelhead happens on the Trinity River in N. California.
Fly anglers from all over the country make the journey to the famous edge of the Trinity River in anticipation of cold crisp mornings, classic fly fishing in a mountain environment surrounded with mysterious mountains and dark inviting glides. Steelhead run upstream from the confluence with the Klamath River, some 165 miles or more downstream.
Fly fishing techniques vary on the Trinity River. In a single day, an angler can face the challenges of a wide swift river that accommodates a two-hand or spey rod method of fly fishing or a more intimate setting where a short toss of the flies may bring your fly rod tight to a 3 ~ 8 lb steelhead.
The very upper reaches of the Trinity River, in the town of Lewsiton California, are more suited to a single hand 9’5″ 6wt or 9″ 8wt fly rod. Below the town of Junction City, the waters widen and deeper slower sections interspersed with complex riffles and falls become the obstacles faced by anglers and steelhead alike.
Keep in mind, this river has been successfully fishing by fly anglers using single hand fly rods for decades and there’s nothing preventing an angler from enjoying a great day, a successful day with any of the fly rods described.
Some anglers prefer to swing their flies while others fish indicators and suspend their offerings on a drug free drift. Which method of fly fishing is best? Depends. An anglers preference and what they are comfortable with is the obvious answer. Fly fishing is a personal pursuit. The classic down and across presentation of a fly swung is probably the most enjoyable and classy way to fish for the royalty that swims up he Trinity River. That said, an indicator allows the fly fishing angler to fish a more diversified selection of currents, pools and glides. From a drift boat, and indicator can cover more water faster than one swinging a fly. Some have said the indicator method is the more productive method of fly fishing. That may be true. At the end of the day, it’s the flies that found steelhead that were the most productive.
Bottom line? You have to put the flies in front of the steelhead in order to get tight to them. Both tactics are equally productive.
If you can alternate and adapt to both techniques, your chances at bringing steelhead to hand are doubled.
With so much water to fish, access being a mystery at times, knowing where to be at what time, understanding currents and flows, it’s a real challenge knowing you are in the right place at the right time let alone the right section of river.
Most fly fishers simply go about a day or a week on the Trinity picking the water that has no anglers occupying it, or by finding popular access spots, word of mouth or experience from last years fishing trip. Thank goodness steelhead move upstream and eventually your paths will cross. Usually near sundown as that’s typically when these fish go on the move. Sometimes they move as a result of guide boat traffic downstream.
Not all guides are the same. The best move when the time is right. They flow with the river and understand how the movements of other guides literally create opportunity off the very stern of down river boats.
A great way to increase your fly fishing chances is by spending time on the water with a knowledgable guide. A guide who knows when to look for fish based on where. That’s the key. Being in the right place at the right time. And really, that’s the luck in fly fishing. Right? But wouldn’t it be cool if you could hire that knowledge? A good fishing guide doesn’t go fishing, they go knowing. There’s a difference. And sometimes they know– the fish are not going to bite or the fish are not here, but over there.
A good guide will triple your chances and really that’s a a great way to get the most out of your fishing investment.
In chasing steelhead, on any river, it’s not what you don’t know that lets you go home skunked. It’s what you know that just isn’t true.
To book a day on the water with Alex Ross is easy. You can call him or send a message via his contact form below.
I recommend you send a message as he is on the river most days and when he gets home, he always checks email and reply same day or within 24 hours.