Lack of Snowpack Making Conditions Brutal For Trout Survival
~ by Bob Volpe ~
This summer, more than almost any summer before, we as responsible stewards of our streams, rivers, and lakes. As a result, we 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 have completely wiped out the runoff this year.
As a result of Aurora and Denver water boards 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 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.
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.
- Don’t play fish any longer than necessary to bring them to net.
- Carry and use a water temperature thermometer. Take the water temperature. Don’t guess at it. If it’s below (let’s 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.
- ALWAYS handle trout with wet hands regardless of water temperature. Handling trout with dry hands removes the protective slime that controls bacteria growth on the fish. Removing this slime opens the door for bacteria to attack the fish and will ultimately result in a dead trout.
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.