Trinity River

Current Report

  • Trinity Fly Shop   530/623-6757
  • The Fly Shop   800/669-3474
  • The Eureka Fly Shop   707/444-2000
  • Kiene’s Fly Shop  800/400-0359
  • Steelhead are usually in the Trinity River system in fishable numbers from September through March most years.
  • Spey guide Jason Hartwick fishes and guides the lower Trinity River for about three months every Fall, Sept/Oct/Nov. He promotes two-handed fly fishing, swinging traditional flies with mostly floating lines that time of year.
  • Call him to get some guide days set up for the coming Fall.
  • Jason’s Steelhead blog
  • Most of our staff has fly fished the Trinity River for a very long time … some started in the 1950s before the dams were in.



This is a very long, diverse drainage spanning hundreds of miles through two reservoirs that where created in the ’60s. It starts way up in the high country of the Salmon-Trinity Alps Wilderness area. Beside many miles of pristine trout streams there are 53 high mountain lakes in this area. All this flows down into Trinity Lake which is over 20 miles long being the 3rd largest reservoir in California. This large remote reservoir is famous for the state record Smallmouth Bass plus lots of trout and Kokanee.

Immediately below Trinity Lake is Lewiston Lake which is like a large slow moving spring creek, most famous for trophy trout with great midge and mayfly hatches.

A very large part of this river (~90%) was diverted for years through tunnels south to the Whiskeytown Reservoir and then into the Sacramento River flowing downstream to the Sacramento Delta where it is pumped down canals to holding reservoirs for use in the southern half of the state.

The part of the Trinity River most fly fishers are interested in is from the Lewiston Dam down stream 110 miles to it’s confluence with the Klamath River at Weitchpec. Right under the dam is the Trinity River Fish Hatchery where they raise trout, steelhead and salmon. The first stretch of river is the “Fly Fishing Only” water that runs from 250′ below the dam downstream ~1.5 miles to the Old Lewiston Bridge. This is open from the last Saturday in April till September 15. The special regulations for this section are single barbless hook, flies only and catch and release. June and July are usually top months for this stretch depending on the run-off and weather. From the Old Lewiston Bridge downstream to Cedar Flat the river is open from the last Saturday in April to March 14.

  • ** We always recommend checking the regulations for where you a going yearly to be sure and also we recommend to fishing barbless all the time and you won’t have to worry about getting a fine.
  • The 110 mile section of river from Lewiston Dam to the mouth has three major tributaries; the North Fork, the South Fork and New River. This stretch has every different kind of water you can imagine. Wadeable riffles, deep runs, giant deep clear pools, open gravel bars and inaccessible canyon. Some areas are easily accessible by car on the road that parallels most of the river. Other sections are better floated in a raft or pontoon boat.
  • The Trinity River has resident Rainbow trout and resident Brown trout, plus sea-run Brown trout, Steelhead, King Salmon and Silver Salmon.
  • The salmon runs are in the summer with July through September being the prime months to fish these hatchery sustained fisheries. Most salmon are caught on bait or lures but some are taken by lucky and/or skilled fly fishers.  Very early morning is prime time for these fish.

There are Steelhead in the river almost year round with wild summer runs, fall run and winter runs. For some the season can start in September in the lower river in the deep shady Weitchpec Canyon where the fish run in early out of the warmer lower Klamath to stay cool. Most find that September/October can be good in the Hoopa Valley if the weather cools a bit and the possibility of early rain. November is a top month on the river for fly fishers in the middle to upper river and Steelhead can run through to the end of February. It does get cold but in between storms you can have winter hatches of BWOs, larger mayflies and good size stoneflies too. This is timely secluded winter fishing that is only enjoyed by the few who work on this very seriously.


  • For trout we recommend a 9′ or longer # 4 – # 6 line rod with a floating line with some Poly/Versi sinking leaders. Also have a clear slow sinking line for lakes.
  • For Steelhead most use 9 to 10 foot single hand fly rods for # 6 – # 7 weight line size. Have a floating line and a short (5′-10′) sinktip.
  • Some use smaller, shorter (10’6″ to 13′) Switch and Spey two-handed fly rods that allow you to make Spey casts where it is too brushy for a back cast.
  • **If you want to swing flies on the Trinity River I would recommend fishing from mid-September through mid-November most years.
  • For Steelhead have some fresh 9′ 1x knotless tapered leaders for swinging flies on a floating line. 7 1/2′ 2x leaders are popular for indicator nymphing or use with sinktip lines. Also have some 0x to 5x matching fresh tippet material. Fluorocarbon tippet is popular because it sinks faster and the water can be very clear.
  • Many use traditional size # 6/8 Steelhead flies like the Silver Hilton, Brindle Bug, Bread Crust and Mossback. Muddlers and October Caddis dries are nice for swinging in September and October before the water cools too much. Soft hackles like the Brown Hackle Peacock and October Caddis Pupa are good patterns. Many deep indicator nymph with dark stones and Golden Stones in combination with small nymphs or egg imitations.
  • In mid-winter they get insect hatches if it is not flooded out. Mayflies and Stoneflies are active just like on the lower Yuba River.
  • **Have a rain jacket, chest waders with belt, layering underwear, studded felt sole boots and a wading staff.


  • The most common way is to head north up Interstate 5 to Redding where you go west on Hwy 299 about 30 miles to the town of Lewiston on the upper river.
  • Another entry point is to take Hwy 299 off of Hwy 101 at Arcata heading east over to Willow Creek on the river at the start of the Hoopa Valley.
  • A third way is to go past Redding on Interstate 5 heading north to Yreka where you can take Hwy 96 southwest down the Klamath River and finally to Weitchpec at the mouth of the Trinity. This is a way to make a very big loop covering much of both rivers.


** If you don’t have the time to get involved in the conservation issues please send them a little money.




  • Bill and Carol Dickens…(530) 623-1905


  • CA Blue Ribbon Trout Streams by Sunderland & Lackey  (excellent)
  • Flyfisher’s Guide To Nor Cal by Seth Norman
  • Fly-fishing Nor Cal Waters by Lily Wong
  • No Nonsense Guide to Fly Fishing in Nor Cal by Ken Hanley


  • Courtesy Fish Sniffer site.
  • StreamTime printed maps available $5.95