Saturday, March 3, 2012

Trout Woods


The success of a small stream angler depends on many things, proper gear for the task, access to a stream, weather, and several others including a few trout to catch.
Probably the most important need is clean cold water. Many of the streams I've fished in the Northeast are small freestone types with a good source of cold water. These sources are from underground springs which release ground water into the stream. I average years where rainfall is ample the stream flows as well as temperatures remain cool and trout thrive, and are beautifully healthy. But in those dry hot years when rainfall is at a premium another factor comes into play.
This factor is the trees and various woodland foliage that grow along side the streams.
I have seen the what this means first hand. We experienced a very hot dry summer a few years ago. It took it toll on many trout streams and the trout that lived there.
One stream that I monitored close had flows reduced to a trickle, the brook trout that lived there were confined to several deeper pools and near deep undercuts. I observed these small trout move into the shallow riffles to access what little oxygen was being brought in.
Late in the fall of that same year I walked the stream, we had received enough rain to bring stream levels up. While walking I could see spawning brookies, not just a few but many. Some of the fish were quite large, I would have thought they could never survive. That's when I realized their survival was because of the fact that water temps never exceeded 70 degrees, a number that means life or death to trout.
I took stream temps that whole summer and never did the temp exceed 68 degrees.

I believe the reason for this is the woods. The leaf canopy gave enough shade to keep what little water that flowed cool enough to sustain life.
Maybe the squirrel should be a symbol for T.U.?





Not only are the tress beautiful along our streams, but so valuable to the life in the stream.


The wild brook trout is alive and doing well in these hidden waters, thanks to the hemlock, birch, maple, oak, and fern.


31 comments:

  1. Excellent post. I love the woods. I agree and for sure streams that have a lot tree canopy remain cooler in the summer but dont forget those springs that come in into the stream. Many never stop flowing, and are responsible for the flow in those hot arid summers. Here we also thank the sycamore, willows, god bless'em, wild roses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Johnny Utah,
      Thanks.
      Where all these things come into play all's well.

      Delete
  2. Great mind fodder this Saturday BrkTrt. I have a sense that these wild trout are "tougher" when in the wild than we give them credit. They know where to seek thermal refuge, and can pull through periods where temps are high or, when the small stream nearly freezes. That's not saying all of them, but more than we tend to think. A small stream I wont fish is a favorite brookie stream of mine. At no point is it more than 3 to 4 feet wide. Most of it is 2 feet or less. The trout you can watch spawning there are 3-4" long, maybe 5" on occassion. The reservoir the stream no flows into is a warm water impoundment, so I dont believe these fish are going there for refuge. Even late in a warm dry summer, when the flow between 2 foot wide pools is only and inch deep and maybe 6" to a foot wide, if you sit and watch quietly, you will see a few of these tiny trout. How they survive deep snowy winters and hot dry summers in this tiny habitat is beyond me. It's truely amazing, and fantastic to see. And the best part, I see hikers and bikers take the wooden bridge accross this stream often, never noticing the tiny little jewels swimming under their feet :). Thanks for getting me off on a good foot today! Will

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will,
      Thanks.
      You have made some good points. It's true some folks never see the beauty in the stream.

      Delete
  3. Excellent post! And yes, I agree.....those small furry-friended nut and seed-spreaders of Forest should, in fact, be TU's mascot. :) Lovely photos, as always...I miss green!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. e.m.b.,
      Thanks.
      They do some very constructive work out there.

      Delete
  4. The trees return nutrients to the water in the leaf litter that eventually sinks and feeds the insects that cycle into the trout. The inter-dependencies in these systems are what keep them going through the rough times - droughts and floods, heat and cold.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary,
      Thanks.
      It's wonderful how all things come together. What a design.

      Delete
  5. In most cases they don't need much water to survive. Nice to see they did.

    Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shoreman,
      Thanks.
      Your right not much, only cold and clean.

      Delete
  6. The first photo is magnificent. Gave me goosebumps. Cannot wait to stand in a similar setting here in central MA on a spring evening. Very nice post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave,
      Thanks.
      It won't be long. Evening hatches oh boy.

      Delete
  7. As I look outside and see snow and look at your post and see beautiful pics of green I suddenly am wishing it was summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick Kratzke,
      Thanks.
      That snow will shrink this week, soon we will be planting lettuce.

      Delete
  8. The dry season occurred a few years ago in the Great Smokey Mountains. It caused the trout to hover in small pool areas. Like you are saying the key here is the water temps, they never got below 65 especially in the higher elevations. Thanks for sharing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bill Trussell,
      Thanks.
      That water temp is key.

      Delete
  9. Excellent post. Fishing small streams is about more than the fish sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi again Brk Trt!

    Wow, wow, and wow again! Wonderful post with marvelous photos! I really appreciate that you want to share those marvelous photos with us regularly reading your blog. You are fortunate to be able to fish in streams like that and enjoying all that surrounds them. Thanks for your willingness to share the joy of just looking at photos like that when it's cold and icy outside where I live!

    Have fun fly fishing and enjoying the nature surrounding your streams,
    Mats Olsson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Jassid Man,
      Thanks.
      I feel sorry for you having to deal with a tough winter. But you future is bright and not to far off.

      Delete
  11. Beautiful photos and excellent post as always. Love those small streams.

    Ben

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AZWanderings,
      Thanks.
      Ben your comments are appreciated.

      Delete
  12. Pretty amazing stat Brk Trt..I would have guessed that there are very few brooks and small streams that stay 68 or below..I should get a thermometer for sure..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. penbayman,
      Thanks.
      Some of the spring fed ones do stay cool, as long as they have that leaf canopy.
      A thermometer is valuable.

      Delete
  13. It always fascinates me how nature protects itself. We need it all to keep our rivers and streams in good working order...the squirrel would make a fine mascot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sanders,
      Thanks.
      Nature does a darn good job, all we have to do is leave it alone and enjoy.
      Three votes for the squirrel.

      Delete
  14. Replies
    1. Jim Yaussy Albright,
      Thanks.
      They're gems.

      Delete
  15. I know that waterfall......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous,
      Thanks.
      Would you say it's in the Granite State?

      Delete
  16. Great stuff and some beauty little streams. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Passinthru Outdoors,
      Thanks.
      Have to love those little waters.

      Delete