Northern California has a winter Steelhead season as good as any in the entire pacific northwest. However, no matter what river we are stepping down in, winter Steelhead are winter Steelhead! They are hard as hell to encounter and often take many of us to the proverbial breaking point of what we are willing to endure. When the winter season hits, I think, in large part, at least for the upper stretches of northern California, its almost a subconscious action to parallel winter Steelhead angling with coastal rivers. For good reason! Who wouldn’t love the dank and vibrant scene of massive redwoods and sequoias harvesting fog and feeding themselves along with the infinitely abundant fields of ferns and fungal networks connecting everything? I know i do! It is and always will be a magical place in time. Count me in!

There are however, more scenes to be offered in the most beautiful Steelhead region in the pacific northwest. One in particular that speaks to me very very loudly, is the lower Trinity River drainage! Offering an unfathomable hybrid scene where dank coastal meets giant mountain, moss covered chaparral. Banks partially canopied with live oak stands cloaked in moss while elephant ears lead the way riddling the far banks like lily pads in a pond in late spring. Massive Doug Firs and Ponderosa Pine staring at you from a ridge line six hundred feet above as the thick fog takes more then half a day to lift out due to local topography air inversions. While you often catch yourself staring up in amazement of the sheer size of the mountains, you have a full sized river flowing Steelhead green through a fog covered flat valley smack dab in the middle of some of the biggest country in the entire pacific northwest.

And in this river be, what i would call the most underrated winter Steelhead run of all! The opportunities that this system offers will stack up against any I’ve ventured in all of northern California. Don’t be fooled by unexperienced rumors of the Trinity River being a 5wt river full of cookie cutter dinks and halfies. It is not! My rod of choice on this lower river is a 7wt Spey(Burkheimer 7134-4) or a full length 6wt(Burkheimer 6139) And it isn’t because of the amount of water either!

The valley that most of the lower Trinity flows through is a flat one, and i believe, in the winter when the water is right(which is most of the time), the Steelhead will slow down a bit, which gives us a better chance to move one. Again, winter steelhead are winter Steelhead and like any region with a run of them, they are hard as hell to hook! Outside of luck, it comes down to time on the water! The lower Trinity is no different. Hard as hell to find them but if we aren’t looking, we aren’t finding em either! For those of us who have been blessed enough to have spent some time down here, we know the massive reward this stretch of river drainage can give back. And it’s dam impressive!