Crowds Are Thin, But Steelhead Abound On the Trinity

By Kirk Portocarrero | 03/13/2013

Many anglers in Northern California have packed away their steelhead rods for the season, but I’m here to tell you there’s still a lot of steelhead in the Trinity River, and more to come. Most people think prime time on the Trinity is November and December, and it is, but I don’t think anyone should give up on March. There’s still a lot of fish here.

Typically, March isn’t a bad month on the Trinity. As a guide, if you have a guy in your boat that can bounce roe you can clobber them. And, they are nice fish, anywhere from 8-10 pounds. You can’t expect to catch the big fish like on the Smith, but there’s some good fishing available.


Right now, there’s fish throughout the system. However, I know there’s a lot of fish at Weitchpec, where the Trinity meets the Klamath. I’m expecting those fish will fly upstream with the next big rain. All steelhead fishermen know that when we get a good rain the fish will bolt upriver and while many think the Trinity run is over I’ve caught them in June springer fishing up there.

The lower river isn’t the only section to hold fish, though. Think about where all those fish go. They go up to Lewiston at the hatchery. And, then as soon as the rain comes they’ll turn around and go downriver. Right now there are plenty of fish in the upper river, too.


Bait is my go-to method this time of year. If I can find a guy to side drift bait and feel the bottom we can hook a dozen fish. And, honestly, I think we are going to get one more good run of steelhead. We haven’t had a lot of rain lately, so when it comes I’m expecting another fresh run of bright fish. There will be steelhead well into April.

Natural cure is the only color I use for steelhead eggs. This is different from The Sac where I’m using a combination of cures to try and get a deep red. On The Sac I want a red to where I do a drift and it’ll still be bright red at the end of the run.


On the Trinity the water is so gin clear you need to go natural. And, it’s always gin clear. When you have that natural color going down the river the fish respond to it in clear water. It’s no different than running red on The Sac, because the water is dirty. If The Sac was clear we’d run natural there, too.

BorX O Fire is some powerful stuff. It milks good and the krill in the cure is vital to my success. On the other hand, I fish my eggs different than most. Most guys use an egg loop and synch it tight. I bury my hook in the eggs, then throw the loop over and synch it tight. By doing this you cover the hook. And, what’s happening is when you cover the hook it’s busting your eggs and dispersing a lot of scent.


Normally, when the water is low and clear I’ll fish plugs and when it’s moving I’ll fish bait. But, when I have three guys on the boat I’ll throw bait in the deep holes because that’s where the bigger fish are. The smaller fish are in the chop. When you start back-trolling Hot Shots you’ll get the smaller fish. We are trying for the bigger ones. And, those bigger fish are biting bait.

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