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Jack C. Mauer has more than a thirty year investment in fishing, floating and wading the waters of western Montana. He is intimately acquainted with the surrounding fisheries and their corresponding ecologies. It is his passion and enthusiasm for the art of fly fishing, a respect and knowledge of trout habitat, and the ability to expertly instruct the technical aspects of fly fishing that clients appreciate as they return to western Montana and Wapiti Waters. Contact Jack at 800-254-5311.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Western Montana Rivers - Tips for Angling When the Weather Heats Up

Cutthroat TroutLast week we had temperatures in the upper 90 degree range. For us, that is very hot. The water levels were dropping dramatically and the water temperatures were rising on all rivers but the Big Hole and the Blackfoot water temperatures were in the upper 60 and lower 70 degree range. Low water flows and high temperatures stress trout, making them especially vulnerable to disease and predators.

In conditions like these, Wapiti Waters’ goal is to get out early and get off before the water temperatures peak in the late afternoon. We also choose reaches that have cooler/higher water. It is better fishing, easier on the trout and more pleasant for the anglers. Our guides are knowledgeable and skilled at using the tips listed below.

Last night we had a good rain. The short range forecast is for a bit cooler temperatures and we are already seeing water temperatures drop. But, we are heading into August and it will probably heat up again. It is worthwhile to understand how to fish responsibly during hot weather.

Drought Tips by Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Fish will feel the stress caused by low flows, higher water temperatures and competition for space and food. Low water conditions in spring and fall can cause spawning failures and increased predation on young fish. Also, fish will "group up" to take advantage of pools where the water is deeper and cooler -- making them more vulnerable to anglers and predators. If conditions worsen, fish are lost to stress from the higher water temperature, lower oxygen levels, and reduced resistance to disease. These threats can impact adult trout numbers in future years.

To help preserve a threatened fishery anglers can:

  • Fish in the cool morning hours -- low water flow and rising temperatures combine to stress fish.
  • Try another location, if water is low at a favorite fishing spot.
  • Be alert for fishing closures on streams hardest hit by drought.
  • Work with water users to try to conserve flow.
  • Report fish kills to the local Fish, Wildlife & Parks office.

Anglers who practice catch-and-release fishing can minimize the stress they place on fish:

  • Use barbless hooks.
  • Land fish quickly once they are hooked.
  • Keep fish in the water as much as possible while handling them.
  • Limit the amount of time fish are handled.
  • Wet hands before attempting to remove the hook.
  • Handle fish gently.
  • Take care not to touch a fish's gills.

On streams experiencing extreme drought conditions and high water temperatures anglers may want to avoid catch and release fishing as it is difficult for trout to recover under these conditions.

Bull Trout, Arctic Grayling, West Slope Cutthroat Trout are species of concern in Montana.

More information on...
Bull Trout and management during hot/dry conditions:Bull trout

Bull Trout ID site on MT FWP
Under FWP’s drought plan, angling restrictions are called for on streams that provide habitat for bull trout when stream flows reach 1-in- 20-year lows and maximum daily water temperatures equal or exceed 60 degrees for three consecutive days. For all other trout, the water temperature to trigger angling closures is 73 degrees for three consecutive days.

Arctic Grayling on the Big Hole and management during hot/dry conditions:Artic Grayling
The Big Hole River Watershed Committee identifies when low river flows should trigger angling closures.

These trigger points were met in early August of 2006, placing the river’s grayling at risk. The upper and middle reaches of the Big Hole totaling 47 miles were closed due to low water flows and high water temperatures.

The upper reach of the river was not opened until it exceeded 40 cfs for at least seven consecutive days with water temperatures that did not exceed 70 degrees for more than eight hours a day for three consecutive days.

The middle reach reopened when the river exceeded 80 cfs for at least seven consecutive days with the same water temperature guidelines.

To read more, click this link for Big Hole River Drought Management Plan

Note: 21 °C = 70 °F, 16 °C = 61 °F

Click here for Wapiti Waters Stream Flow Links

1 comment:

  1. Yes when in stress the fish is unlikely to take the bait. Your blog is very nice. The images are very beautiful. God is Great. Best wishes.


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