Posts Tagged ‘Runoff Fishermen’

COLORADO: For Runoff-weary Fishermen, the Waiting is Almost Over

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

For runoff-weary fishermen, the waiting is almost over.  Rivers that have been swollen with runoff from the exceptionally heavy snow that blanketed much of the state last winter are receding. Though most still are well above their long-term average for the date, their volume has been dropping, and the water is becoming clear enough for fishing.

Though the effects of the record runoff might be a mixed blessing in the short term, in the longer view they are a benefit to fish and fishermen alike.

“We know periodic high-runoff years are very good for making a river what it is,” said Sherman Hebein, senior aquatic biologist for Parks and Wildlife’s northwest region, where the runoff has been heaviest. “They’re a very essential part of what makes a river a good place for fish to live.”

The heavy currents and muddy conditions of a high-runoff year can impact the survival of recently hatched trout, but they also scour the river bottom, cutting new channels and flushing out loose sand, silt and gravel. Such cleansing opens additional space among the river-bottom rocks, which improves a river’s capability to produce a larger variety and greater numbers of aquatic insects. They are an essential component of its food chain, a major benefit to its trout and, by extension, to fishermen.

High water also carries logs and other debris, which will be deposited at some point downstream. That new structure also will attract fish.

As the runoff winds down, trout that have been in an energy conservation mode and eating little through the period of cold, discolored water will become active.

“They’ve had a tough time making a living, and they’ve been expending their energy reserves,” Hebein said. “When the river clears, they’ll need to eat all they can. They’ll be hungry and they’ll be eating like crazy.

“That will be a great time for fishing, but fishermen need to be aware that their favorite fishing hole may have changed a little. The river might have a somewhat different look.”

Consecutive years of exceptionally high runoff are unusual.  With improved feeding and spawning conditions after the runoff, fish will grow quickly. Although some young fish might have been lost, the population will recover. The river will be a better place to live, and soon enough, the fishing will be good as ever – maybe even better.

Dept of Natural Resources


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