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Fire, Rain and Mud

by E.B. Duggan

First we had FIRE, then we had Rain, then we had MUD. This has been the usual for the last several years and I hope that this is not going to be the normal weather for the Trinity Valley in coming years. The rain and water for the reservoirs, the rivers, environment and the fish, is needed, but not the fires or should I say not these devastating types of fires. This last rain storm was very helpful for the fire fighters; it allowed them to get most of the fires under control.

Normally it takes 3 inches of rain to reach the rivers and start the fish moving up the rivers to their spawning streams. This past storm brought in 3.45 inches of rain to the Willow Creek area of the Trinity River. As for the Klamath, it brought more rain into different sections and areas of the river. The problem is that much of the vegetation around the Mid-Klamath was removed by fire and caused more runoff than normal. This runoff causes ash and mud to drain into the Mid- Klamath and caused the river to be muddy last Friday and part of Saturday.

So far the Trinity is clear. The mud caused poor fishing down at the mouth of the Klamath but did not affect the Trinity.  This ash/mud runoff into the rivers could affect the spawning, but I really could not tell you for sure as I am not a scientist, just a fisherman that has lived on the river for many years. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens in the next couple of years.

The Central Valley Water Project begins the 2018 water year(Oct 1, 2017) with 8.9 million acre feet of water stored in the reservoirs as compared to the 2016/17 water year that only had 4.9 million acre feet of water. This is great news for the farmers. Starting with this much water storage is good news for the fish also because there will be more water released into the rivers and hopefully flush out the pathogens that have plagued our migrating smolt for the last several years.

Note: Southern California Metropolitan Water District as well as several others water districts, back Gov. Brown’s water tunnels, but the Centro Valley Farmers that use the CVP water complain it is too expensive at $17 Billion.   

Trinity River Hatchery: Oct 7 the TRH has suspended operations; Chinook salmon total the spring run is 1,379. 

Junction City weir: Oct. 7 JC Weir was pulled for the spring run Chinook salmon, season total 208  Coho 0,  adult Steelhead season total 52; Brown Trout season total 9. 

Willow Creek weir: For the week ending Oct. 14; Chinook salmon, jacks  56, adults 99, total 154, season total 1,710; Coho, jacks 13, adults 3, total 16, season total 27; steelhead, ½-lbs 1, adults 48   total 49, season total 468. 

Klamath Iron Gate: Form Sep. 11  to Oct 1 Bogus Creek, Chinook 220; Shasta River Sep 6 to sep 28 Chinook salmon 3,3305; Scott River from Sep212 to Oct 1, Chinook 90. 

Fishing: Fishing for the past week on the lower Trinity has been slow due to the lack of fishermen and the rain. I would also suspect that the amount of transients that are camping along the river in Willow Creek has detoured fisherman also.  The 299 Highway closures along the Trinity in the Junction City area has also slowed down some of the fishing in that area. Fishing above JC should be good fishing for the amount of fish that are being counted going through the Willow Creek Weir. I would also say that the rain this past week discouraged some fishermen. For the next week or so, fishing should start picking up along the Trinity with fair to good weather predicted for the coming week. Remember that Hawkins Bar up to the Bridge at Cedar Flat is closed until December 31.  Low water flows on the Trinity are causing some drifts to be hard because of the channel changes due to this last winter’s high water. 

Mid-Klamath: Iron Gate Dam is releasing 1,064cfs, this should provide for some good fishing above I-5. The Seiad Valley (Happy Camp) might have some dirty water but I would suspect that it will clear by the weekend and allow for some good fishing.  With the fish that have been moving into the Weitchpec area fishing around the mouth of the Trinity should be picking up for the next week. 

Lake Conditions: Whiskeytown is 88% of capacity with inflows of 378cfs and releasing 757cfs into Clear Creek and to Keswick. Shasta is 71 of capacity (a decrease of 1% & minus 53ft) with inflows of 4,087cfs and releasing 6,431cfs, Keswick is 88% of capacity (a decrease of 6%) with inflows of 7,142cfs and releasing 7,441cfs; Oroville Lake is 35%  capacity (a decrease of 10% & minus23ft), inflow is 2,219cfs and releases are 3,713 cfs; Folsom Lake is 60% of capacity (minus 2% & minus 3ft.) inflows are 1,442cfs and releases are 2,540cfs. 

Trinity Lake: The Lake is 47ft below the overflow (increase of 1ft) and 72% of capacity (1% increase) Inflow to Trinity Lake is 353cfs and Trinity Dam is releasing 531cfs to Lewiston Lake with 223cfs going to Whiskeytown Lake and on to the Keswick Power Plant and it is releasing  7,441cfs to the Sacramento River. 

Trinity River Flows and Conditions: Lewiston Dam releases are 308cfs with water temps of 49.2 and air is 52 degrees at 10:00am today. Limekiln Gulch is 4.6ft at 321cfs, water temps of 50.3 degrees and air is N/A.  Douglas City is 6.1ft at 338cfs, water temps of 51.6, air is 53. Junction City is 1.6ft at 401cfs.  Helena is 86ft at 419cfs with water temps of 51.8. Cedar Flat is 2.9ft at 597cfs. Willow Creek is estimated at 742cfs air is 54 and water at 53. Hoopa is 12.1ft at 1,149cfs with water temps of 54.9.  Flows at the mouth of the Trinity River at Klamath River are estimated to be 3,918cfs.

Klamath: Iron Gate Dam releases are 1,064cfs.  Seiad Valley is 2.5ft at 1,473fs. Happy Camp is estimated at 1,615fs, Salmon River is 2.7ft at 552cfs, Somes Bar is estimated at 2,217cfs and Orleans is 3.9ft. at 2,769cfs and the Klamath River at Terwer Creek is 9.4ft at 5,317cfs, with water temperatures of 54 degrees. Flows at Smith River, Dr. Fine Bridge are 7.6ft at 2,460cfs. 

Temperatures in the Valley last week were 71/39 degrees with 3.45in of rain with a season total of 3.45in of rain and 0.0in of snow. The temperatures for next week are to be 85/41 with some cloudy weather at the mid week, then a few scattered showers for the weekend and then sunshine for the rest of the week.  

from Willow Creek, CA Phone 530-629-3554, E-mail

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