The Trinity River is the major tributary to the Klamath River, and stretches 110 river miles from Lewiston Dam downstream to its confluence with the Klamath at Weitchpec.
Nearly the entire river is designated as wild and scenic, and flows through Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Six Rivers National Forest, and BLM land.
The Trinity River is arguably one of the finest steelhead streams in the West. It's runs of anadromous fish were nearly decimated when Trinity and Lewiston Dams were completed in the 1960s, but recent restoration efforts along the river (Trinity River Restoration Program) have brought the steelhead back by the thousands, and recent years on the Trinity have boasted some of the finest runs and
greatest steelheading in decades.
The average size of a Trinity River steelhead ranges from four to eight pounds, while mature adults measuring over ten pounds are hooked on a regular basis. In addition to the steelhead, anglers on the Trinity River have the opportunity to hook into fresh Chinook and Coho salmon, and even sea-run brown trout. Whereas a great week of steelheading on most rivers can mean one or two fish hooked, our Trinity River guides regularly hook multiple fish nearly every day of the season.
The Fishing on the Trinity River
Every inch of the upper Trinity River is accessible to drift boat anglers, while there's plenty of great wade access, too.
The upper 40 miles of the Trinity River, from Lewiston Dam near the town of Lewiston downstream to it's confluence with the North Fork Trinity River, is the bread and butter of steelhead fly fishing on the Trinity. This is a beautiful section of river, winding through dense evergreen forests and canyons decorated by massive boulders and technical rapids. Over the years, the Trinity River has carved its way through the rugged terrain of the Trinity Alps to create deep pools and ledgerock shelves ideal for steelhead holding water and perfectly suited for fly fishing.
There are a few minor tributary streams entering the Trinity throughout these upper 40 miles, yet the river remains largely controlled by releases from Lewiston Dam. This means that the river remains low and fishable throughout the winter steelhead season.
Our guides prefer to utilize specialized drift boats and rafts to float the technical rapids of the Trinity. By drifting the many different
sections of river available, guides are able to cover a lot of water and find the fish that are constantly moving through the system. Having the ability to cover 10 or more river miles during a day's fishing enables our guides to put our clients in front of more fish, and ultimately to have more opportunities at catching steelhead.
There are two main techniques used to fly fish for steelhead on the Trinity River: Swinging flies and nymphing. Swinging flies is the most traditional method to target steelhead, and can be effective in the early season (October-November) when water temperatures are warmer and the steelhead are more active and aggressive. Day in and day out, however, our guides prefer to drift nymphs under indicators, as they have found over the decades that we've been guiding this river that it is far and above the most productive way to catch fish. The Trinity River's deep pools and channels are ideal for dead-drifting nymphs.
Reservations & Rates
Our guide staff is among the best in the industry, and our guide and Private Waters management team will work hard to make sure that you're placed with the right guide for your specific needs. We've been putting together guided fishing trips for three decades, and have the experience to coordinate a memorable day on the water for just about any group. Over the years, we've developed a few guidelines to help ensure that your trip is as successful as possible.
We can work with you to select a guide that's matched to your skills, interests, their
specialty or, perhaps, the equipment involved. Some of our guides are more instruction-oriented than others and are better suited for the novice wanting to combine a day of guided fishing with a learning experience, while others just plain know how to catch fish.
If you have a specific request or have been with us before, we can help reserve guide dates with one of your favorite guides based on that guide's specific availability. If not, we're happy to hook you up with one of several of our guides who specialize on our Northern California freestone streams.
Package Cost: The cost of the full-day Trinity River guided package is:
• $450 per day (1-2 anglers per guide)
• $500 per day (Package deal, including flies, tackle, & equipment)
Inclusions: Included in your guided angling package on the Trinity River is 8-10 hours of guided fishing with lunch provided.
Non-Inclusions: Not included in your guided angling package on the Trinity River are fishing license, waders, rods/reels, and terminal tackle (flies, tippet, etc.)
Package Deals: If you are just getting started in the sport, or will be traveling and don't want to hassle with dragging along all of your gear, you may want to consider our guide trip "Package Deal." This inclusive option is only an additional $50 per day, and with it the guides will provide the necessary rods, reels, flies, tackle and equipment to ensure that you have the right gear and flies for the day. If you're an experienced angler and/or fly tier, call ahead
and we'll let you know exactly what flies are producing so you can be sure to tie them beforehand or bring them along.
Navigating the Trinity River requires small, maneuverable drift boats and rafts, so we can never accommodate more than two anglers at a time.
The Fly Shop® is not in the insurance business, but we recommend Travel Guard coverage as a service with a desire to see your best interests protected. It is impossible to know when an unfortunate situation (loss of luggage, fly rods, illness in the family, or an accident) may occur. However, such things can and do happen, and this insurance can provide a means of recourse against non-refundable financial losses. Click HERE for Travel Guard's Policies and more information
• Bill & Caryl Dickens (Gold Coast Shuttle) at 530-623-1905 or through their website at goldcoastshuttles.com
• Lonnie Boles & Robyn Adore at 530-739-0657 (licensed and insured)
Seasons of the Trinity River
The Trinity River is open year 'round to fishing most years, but the timing of the steelhead runs mean that certain times of year will be more productive than others.
July, August and September:
Flows begin to drop to fishable levels by mid July on the Trinity River. At this time there are a handful of steelhead still around in the Fly Fishing Only Section just below Lewiston Dam, as well as healthy numbers of immature steelhead smolt ranging from 8-14 inches and a few half-pounder steelhead from 16-20 inches. There's a lot of great wade access near the town of Lewiston, and these aggressive fish will take swung flies, nymphs, egg patterns, even dry flies.
The summer season on the Trinity is a great time of year to target fresh Spring-run Chinook Salmon. These powerful fish can be found in many of the upper Trinity River's deep pools and riffle water, and a few of our guides have spent considerable time perfecting techniques to catch these fish (averaging 10-20 pounds) on fly tackle.
The first of the massive sea-run Brown Trout also begin to show in the Trinity River in August and September. The Trinity's sea-run browns look and act just like the river's steelhead, averaging 4-8 pounds and readily taking flies. While these brown trout on steroids can be found just about anywhere in the river system, there are a few places where they congregate and can be targeted specifically.
Summer-run steelhead, too, begin to make their first appearances as early as August. There are not nearly as many steelhead in the river at this early time of year, making the steelhead fishing challenging, but rewarding. Water temperatures are warm, so the few fish that are moving upriver are aggressive and September and October can be the best time of year to take steelhead on the surface with skated or waking attractor dry flies or using traditional greased-line techniques.
October through February:
The bulk of the summer run of steelhead on the Trinity River begins to arrive by mid to late October. The weather on the Trinity River during the fall season is as good as it gets, making October and November the most popular - and therefore crowded - two months of the year on the river. Steelhead are usually spread out throughout the entire system, so there is a lot of fishable water. Moreover, water temperatures are still moderate, so the fish will eat both swinging flies and dead-drifted nymphs and egg patterns. This early run of steelhead is predominantly hatchery fish headed to the Lewiston National Fish Hatchery, and there's always a few wild steelhead mixed in.
The winter run of steelhead start to show as early as Thanksgiving, with fresh fish migrating upriver throughout the rest of the winter season. The majority of these winter fish are wild, and the average size of the steelhead generally gets progressively larger later into the winter months. Water temperatures are considerably colder, so the steelhead are less likely to move for traditional fly patterns and dead-drifting nymphs is the preferred method for hooking Trinity River Steelhead from November through February.
Winter weather ranges from mid-60s to below freezing. The winter steelhead season is not for the faint of heart, making it ideal for true steelhead die-hards willing to brave the cold in order to catch these special creatures. The benefit to the colder weather, however, is that it definitely helps to keep the crowds away.
The best conditions for fishing on the Trinity from October through February are stormy days, or the days immediately following a storm. Wet weather gets steelhead on the move. Fish on the move are burning calories, more active, and more likely to eat your fly. The upper 40 miles of the Trinity are primarily controlled by flow releases from Lewiston Dam which remain low all winter long, so there are very few days when the river blows out to unfishable conditions, and it will always clear within a day or two.
March through June:
Most years we can catch steelhead on the Trinity River right up to the middle of March. Every year right around March 15, however, the Lewiston Hatchery releases its steelhead and salmon smolts into the river, and though there may still be steelhead around getting your flies through the millions of smolts can be next to impossible.
The Fly Fishing Only Section of the Trinity opens early for the month of April, and can bring about some fun fishing before the General Trout Opener on the last Saturday in April. There are usually still a few holdover adult steelhead to be found, but the real draw to the fly-only water this time of year is dry fly fishing for the many smolts and trout-sized immature steelhead that populate these upriver riffles and runs.
Early May marks the start of the purging flows on the Trinity. As part of the Trinity River Restoration Project, Lewiston Dam begins to release very high flows (from 5,000-12,000 cfs). These high flows are designed to provide extra habitat for the smolts of the native salmon and steelhead of the river, and to help push the immature fish out to the ocean. They're ultimately great for the river's anadromous fish, but they do make fishing a non-issue on the Trinity for the months of May and June until the flows begin to drop in mid-July.
Lodging for the Trinity River
Most of the drifts that our guides cover on the Trinity river are 45 minutes to an hour drive time from The Fly Shop® in Redding.
Hotels & Motels:
Strawhouse Resorts & Cafe'
31301 State Highway 299
Big Flat, CA 96048
• Located right on the Trinity River, you can enjoy private fishing access while you stay in the nicest place on the Trinity and enjoy the best food around. We also roast our own organic coffee, so you'll be sure to start the day off right with a great cup of Joe! Then you can end your day with an awesome gourmet meal prepared especially for you (by reservation only). We are in the heart of the Trinity, so whether you choose to fish upstream or down, you will be conveniently located to both.
Lewiston Valley Motel (& RV Park)
P.O. Box 324
Lewiston, CA 96052
• The Lewiston Valley Motel is one of the most convenient choices for lodging for our Trinity River trips. It is conveniently located in the town of Lewiston within walking distance of the Mountain Valley Grill, right where our guides meet every morning of the steelhead season. It is a clean, functional fishing motel.
Old Lewiston Inn
Lewiston, CA 96052
• Bed-and-breakfast style lodging right on the banks of the Trinity River in historic downtown Lewiston.
Trinity River Adventure Inn
• The Trinity River Adventure Inn has several quaint cabins located right on the Trinity River with river access; they have cabins available near the Bucktail boat launch and near Steel Bridge River Access, and have options for meals. The cabins are all cozy and comfortable and make for the ideal steelhead fly fishing getaway.
Indian Creek Lodge Motel
59741 St Hwy 299 West
Douglas City, CA 96024
• Their slogan, "clean and comfortable with character" really fits. New owners have nicely refurbished an attractive old fishing lodge that once was frequented by celebrities like Bing Crosby. Boat launch and several hundred yards of prime, accessible fishing water right in back of the lodge. 32 miles from Redding, 8 miles from Weaverville, right on Highway 299W.
The 49er Motel
P.O. Box 1608 – Main Street
Weaverville, CA 96024
• Great location, easy to find right on Highway 299 within walking distance of restaurants.
Weaverville Hotel & Emporium
481 Main Street (PO Box 537)
Weaverville, CA 96093
Phone: 530-623-2222 or (800) 750-8853
• Conveniently located in Weaverville Old Town, in the same block as LaGrange, The Garden Cafe, Johnny's Pizza and two saloons, the Weaverville Hotel (last rebuilt in 1880) is right next to the Band Stand. Only 7 rooms, all with private bath, most with claw-footed tubs, gas log fireplaces, and four-poster beds. The hotel was completely renovated and restored to its original high ceilings and wood floors in 2004. Perfect for a relaxing stay or a pleasant, romantic fishing weekend.
Weaverville Victorian Inn
200 S Miner St
Weaverville, CA 96093
• The Weaverville Victorian Inn is easy to find on Highway 299 right as you come into the town of Weaverville and is close to several local eateries, grocery stores, etc.
Whitmore Inn (Bed and Breakfast)
761 Main St.
Weaverville, CA 96093
• Bed and Breakfast near downtown Weaverville, within walking distance of La Grange Restaurant
• The Fish Tale Retreat is a cozy cabin located right on the Trinity River with river access at Bucktail, a great option for self-reliant groups of anglers.
RV Parks and Campgrounds:
Old Lewiston Bridge RV Resort
PO Box 148
Rush Creek Rd
Lewiston, CA 96052
• Clean, well-kept, walking access to the Trinity River, convenient location just across the river from historic "downtown" Lewiston. Rental trailers also available.
Booking a Guide for the Trinity River
To make a reservation, please give us a call at 800-669-3474 during business hours any day of the week, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime. We can give you the answers you need, detailed explanations to questions you might have, or check on availability and confirm your reservation in minutes.