River Temperature and Trout, They Can Be In Danger
Hopefully most anglers realize that when water temperatures get too warm in our trout streams it is best to leave the fish alone. The reason is that warmer water holds less oxygen and therefore stresses trout. When you add in being hooked and fought by an angler even after a proper release the trout maybe so stressed that it won’t survive. There is not a consensus at what temperature should anglers leave the trout alone but this article from Hatch does the best job that I’ve read laying out the facts about warm water and trout. It seems to draw the line at 68-70 degrees as being the time we leave the fish alone.
How to respond to higher temperatures
When warm temperatures are near these critical heights there are things we can do to protect our trout. First if you are fishing, fight a hooked fish very aggressively. Bring them to the net quickly and do not lift them out of the water for photo. When releasing hold them in the current to help revive them. Do not release them until they swim away from you under their own power. Better yet, quit fishing in the streams and rivers that are warm and switch to colder locations. Colder rivers like the Boardman and Pine Rivers stay cooler than the Manistee and Ausable. Therefore they are great warm weather hopper fisheries. Also be aware that some sections of the same rivers stay stay cooler than others. It’s a good idea to carry a thermometer, that will help you learn where you can and where you shouldn’t fish.
The Upper Manistee in some recent years has been warm enough that I quit fishing there, usually preferring to switch to smallmouth. They become even more plentiful as water gets warmer.
In conclusion, if you wish to have more and larger trout in our rivers we need to protect them when they are vulnerable. That way they can live to fight another day.
River Data on the Web
The following resources help you to learn river temperatures on the web
*USGS Current Conditions StreamFlow – Manistee River at Sherma
*App for your Phone – River Data
*Hawkins Outfitters is working on a temperature monitoring station at CCC Bridge that will be available on our website. Thanks to the EDTU Chapter from downtown Chicago for funding this!
Capt. Chuck Hawkins