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Temperatures Rising Flows, Flames, and Fish

Whew! Mid-July. Our thermometers are inching up into the red with long stretches of 90 degree + days, afternoon rain storms, and pleasant evenings with cooler air. We’re about 1/3 of the way into the summer season, so we can look forward to more of this type of weather in the next few weeks. But increasing temps mean changes for the waters we fish and the forests where we walk those waters. Here are some tips for being good stewards of our fisheries as we head into “the dog days” of summer.

Flows at Deckers have kept the water low, wadeable, and

productive. Lower flows also mean higher water temps as

the day progresses.

Most of our local rivers and streams look pretty healthy right now regarding flows and temperatures. Denver Water is managing the flows as they work toward getting reservoirs to 100% full. As of this writing, the flow out of Elevenmile Reservoir through the Canyon is 246 cubic feet per second (cfs). The Dream Stream is 245 cfs. Those flow levels will keep the water cooler through the day, and cooler water means healthier fish.

As of today, 07/15/20,

the Pike and the San Isabel

National Forest are in a

Stage 2 Fire Ban. These

prohibitions are in place:

Building, maintaining, attending

or using a fire or campfire,

charcoal grill, any type of charcoal

fueled broiler, tiki torch, wood

burning stove, sheepherders

stove, or open fire of any type.

These restrictions include

developed camping and picnic

grounds and private property.

At the other end of the spectrum, the South Platte through Deckers is only flowing at 80 cfs. Lower flows mean that the water temp can rise more quickly through the day. Warmer water temps can be harmful, even fatal, for our cold water species of trout in Colorado. I didn’t have a thermometer with me on Monday, but the increase in water temperature could easily be felt after we took 20 minutes for lunch around 11:30. The morning chill had been burnt off, and the change in water temp was physically noticeable after we took our short break out of the river.

When fishing in these summer months, half-day trips may be more beneficial for the fish. The stress of the warmer water, added to the hookset and the fight, may be lethal. If you do fish during the afternoon hours, net the fish quickly, keep it wet, forego the picture, and release it to the river as quickly as possible.

Better yet, don’t fish after 12:00 noon, or hit the river after 5:00 for the evening hatch. Right now on our nearby waters, the Trico hatch is amazing in the morning, and adult caddis have been productive in the evening.

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