~ By Bob Volpe ~
This summer, more than almost any summer before, we as responsible stewards of our streams, rivers, and lakes, must be vigilant to the vulnerable trout we love to play with.
The lack of snowpack in the high country and the continued demand for water by agriculture and city sprawl is at a danger point. Antero reservoirs recent dam renovations, the low water levels in Cheesman reservoir, and Spinney Mountain reservoirs has completely wiped out the runoff this year.
As a result of the Aurora water board and Denver water board holding back water to fill the low reservoirs, flows on the South Platte have been extremely low. With these conditions, water temperatures in the river from Tomahawk Wildlife Area to Strontia reservoir will reach critical mass for the survival of trout. As the temperature rises and dissolved oxygen decreases, fish begin to experience stress. These stresses begin to set in well before the water temperature reaches lethal limits.
For example, rainbow trout are said to be able to survive in temperatures up to and exceeding 77°F, but stop growing at 73°F.
For this reason, responsible anglers must take caution when fishing in high temperature conditions. That doesn’t mean you have to stop fishing, but keep in mind a few steps you can take to reduce trout
fatality when practicing catch and release fishing.
Saving the Trout
Here are a few tips to follow to keep our trout alive for the future.
• Fish early in the morning when water temps are at their lowest.
temperature. Don’t guess at it. If it’s below (lets say, sixty-eight degrees), catch all you want and just make sure you release them as quickly as possible. If it’s warmer than that, or has the chance of getting any warmer, look for another location.
That being said, summer is the time of the terrestrial. There is nothing as exciting as seeing a trout rise to a dry fly. Fishing hopper, ant, and beetle imitations is the best part of summer fly fishing. These larger flies are easier to tie on to your tippet, easier to see in the water, and are just plain fun to fish.
Tight lines and happy fishing.