Fall Finish

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The leaves have all fallen and the morning temps are below freezing. Water temps have plummeted into the mid forties and with little to no rain in sight it signals the end to our fall season. It was a good one and could have been great if it weren’t for one storm that changed our Oct/Nov fishing.

Driving home down 299 from just getting back from Alaska was a sight I will not soon forget. September 30th and the Trinity River in Junction City was a muddy torrent caring giants logs and trees downriver flowing just under 3,000 cfs. Something you only see a couple of times in the winter, let alone late Septmeber!

Fish were in the river before the storm and quite a few at that. The storm brought the rivers and creeks up so much that many steelhead headed for home and ascended many of their natal streams. When steelhead get water, they go! Once the river dropped back in, we had some new fish but had lost many of the wild summer run fish we are use to fishing over in October. While fishing was still good, it certainly had the potential to be great without the storm.

Once the river and creeks settled a bit, some nice bright wild fish moved into the system. It seemed to be a bit of a trickle but there were some quality fish like this one Steve Merlone managed to land after going aerial many times…

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As the colors started to change, the weather settled in was warm and dry for the rest of the month. We could have used a little rain as the river was the lowest we have ever seen it in the fall. Many of the creeks were a mere trickle and you could see the “normal” water line on the rocks was dry by a good 6-8″.

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This made for super low,  clear flows, and skittish fish. Presentations were key and those with delicate casts and good line control took advantage of the situations. The fall offered many anglers good floating line fishing. Keichi with a nice hen on the muddler….

_DSC7319As the days passed in October fishing became a little more challenging. Certainly fewer fish in the main systems after the rain, but some of the ones around were large. It seemed to be a season of misses when it came to landing the big one! We must have lost 4-5 good fish in the 8-12 lb range. A rare sight on the Klamath/Trinity system.

One of our favorite things about Northern California in the fall, warm temps and beautiful bright fall colors…

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DSC_2602DSC_2654As the end of October neared, Rick Davis did it right. Getting a few half-hearted tugs each day from unwilling steelhead. Rick waited to the last run what seemed like each of the two days to land a “surface looker” each day. Way to go Rick!

_DSC7331November rolled around and we were still stuck with low dry conditions and no rain in sight. Even the slightest bhp in flows would turn on the fishing but the rest of our fall remained dry. The days grew shorter and water temps began to plummet. Still finding fish on floating lines and still some nice ones around, Mike Radmilovich landed a few “nice” ones…

DSC_2489DSC_2581The fall season was a good one here on the Klamath/Trinity Rivers. While always bittersweet we put the floating lines away in favor of skagits and bigger flies for the next seasons fishing. The next decent rains should bring in some of those black and white finned specimens many of us look forward to chasing late fall…

Thank you to all who fished with me in the 2013 season and we look forward to seeing many of you again this winter. Now, just pray for rain!

Jason Hartwick

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