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siusaluki

Drought?

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It's been a dry spring so far in my area. It will affect some of my favorite places to fish, which last year had water higher than they ever have before. Are we heading for another drought summer? How will it affect fishing in the places you fish?

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In the short term, drought often means better fishing. In the longer term it is a bad thing. When the rivers get very low, it concentrates the fish and makes them more competitive and easier to catch. The problem is that it makes them easier to catch, though...and too many of them get caught! And low, warm water stresses the fish, causing a decline in growth rates. If very low water persists into the winter, it disrupts the migration of the fish to wintering areas. Same thing with a very dry spring; the fish can't migrate to spawning areas. So while the first summer of a drought can produce very easy fishing, you pay for it down the road.

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Here in Colorado they're now saying that the dry March with hard winds have expanded last year's drought. One of my favorite brook trout creeks from last summer is on the edge of a large wildfire and yesterday I could barely see the Front Range from downtown Denver the smoke was so bad. We're below average for snow pack too so if you're headed this way this summer get ready for low water and plan your wildfire escape routes ahead of time.

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Snow pack in March was less than 40% of normal on the Front Range and they're starting to make plans for water conservation this summer. I was on the Big Thompson yesterday and it wasn't much higher than it was last September.

If you're coming out to fish this year, plan accordingly. Low water and wildfires likely.

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This year in the central Ozark streams I frequent we have July water levels in May. The low water is sure going to throw a loop into my Smallmouth float routine. Typically I’ll fish as high up a watershed as I can early in the season then follow the water down river as it drops out, fishing the barely navigable water that most folks avoid. Once the low water of late July forces me to the crowded main stem sections I Armor All the canoe and go back upstream to tough it out dragging and wading. It looks like I’ll be going through a lot of Armor All this year.

We’ve been blessed with good water for the last several years; fish numbers and size reflect this. When advocates of tighter catch and keep regulations speak up to folks who have been catching and keeping decent fish their pleas fall on deaf ears. I recall many a season after several droughts year when you were hard pressed to catch any of the 15” to 17” Smallmouth that make for quality fishing. If this is the start of a prolonged period of low water we’ll be doomed to several seasons 10 and 12” Smallmouth, the upside would be a greater recognition of the need to preserve stream bass for growth.

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Well we haven't gotten to june yet so we don't know for sure what it will be like. Streams here in what I would call the northern edge of the ozarks are doing pretty well, about normal for this time of year. Seems last several years we don't get the sustained rains, instead we get heavy drenching rains that jump the creeks up high and drop back quickly, without the benefit of a sustained flow. Makes the graveling and streambank erosion situations worse.

While I don't mind some additional Smallmouth regulations if it is drought that is causing the loss all the regulations in the world won't change that. I love to wade fish for smallies and don't keep them. I have kept a few on canoe trips for a fish fry but generally a couple hours with a small jig will produce enough gogglers or green sunfish to fulfill the needs for a small fish fry.

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I will be lake fishing. The river above the local lake here wasn't even flowing into the lake as of March 1st. It ran dry three riffles or so above the lake. Our smaller county and city lakes are low. The creeks are all low already. I guess I will be fishing smaller waters.

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I will be lake fishing. The river above the local lake here wasn't even flowing into the lake as of March 1st. It ran dry three riffles or so above the lake. Our smaller county and city lakes are low. The creeks are all low already. I guess I will be fishing smaller waters.

Dang! That makes our issues around here sound pretty minor. Hope you all get some rain out there.

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Drought's a natural component of the Ozarks, there's nothing we can do to control/affect it, and in all likelihood, our sport fish will come out of it fine.

Sorta like OTF said- hard to complain about poor fishing here when folks in the southeast have been suffering a pretty severe drought over the past several years, and folks in the rockies and southwest are bracing for what could be a pretty heinous fire season. There's folks out there who would LOVE if their biggest concern was catching 12" smallmouth instead of 17" smallmouth, just trying to give a little perspective :)

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We had a pretty dry winter and fall last year, the summer was hot and dry here also. The last major rain events here were when the tornadoes hit around the first of March. Since then I have recorded only about 2 1/2 inches of rain. Ponds and streams are low. Most are too low to float in a yak around here. I have been watering the garden since I planted it to supplement the low rainfall. But it has rained north and south of me more, just a dry band for several hundred square miles.

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