In the early season, trout are usually active in pools at the base of waterfalls, where air temperatures will affect water temperatures
Due to summer-like weather patterns that had arrived by the early spring, this year’s trout season has been greatly accelerated. Matters have been further complicated by the lack of any significant winter snowpack, which traditionally has remained intact in the surrounding mountains until late May.
As a result of the season’s diminished snowpack, most area rivers are currently flowing at mid-summer levels. The traditional spring runoff never materialized, and as a result, there were no spring floods. Water levels remain low even on the local lakes and ponds.
Most rivers and streams are now running gin clear, with water temperatures nearly a month beyond average.
Over the weekend, I recorded water temperatures in the mid 40’s on the ponds. It was an astounding discovery for the first week of April.
As water temperatures increase, the percentage of dissolved oxygen in the water will decrease. This spells trouble for trout, salmon and a host of other cold-water species that require cold, clean and highly oxygenated waters. Coldwater species become lethargic and stressed in warm, oxygen poor waters.
I expect trout and salmon will also be stressed by the low water levels and the startling water clarity. In such conditions, the advantage will shift firmly in favor of winged predators such as heron, osprey, kingfisher, and cormorants.
It certainly has been a strange start to the season. By mid March, the majority of local lakes and ponds had already begun to shed their ice cover.
Most area ponds were ice free nearly a week before the beginning of the annual trout season, on April 1. I received reports of paddlers enjoying the open ponds as early as March 21.
Anglers were fishing the ponds on Opening Day, and for many, it was a ‘first in a lifetime event’. I regret that it may not be such an unusual event in future years.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.