It’s all about water flow and water temperature

September 21, 2018 – We say it every time someone asks, “How’s the fall fishing?” The answer is always the same, “Fall can be Feast or Famine.”

In order for landlocked salmon and brook trout to get the urge to begin their fall spawning runs in earnest two factors have to fall into place, a sudden increase in water flow and a sharp decrease in water temperature. A sudden increase in water flow is easy. Just crack a gate or two at the dam. In our region the policy on Moosehead, Brassua & First Roach is hold enough water back during the season so flows can be increased after Labor Day to attract fish into our rivers. That has already happened and the Roach River also got a second increase around mid-month. The second ingredient, a drop in water temperature, which mother nature has control over wasn’t as co-operative as we would like. When flows were increased the day after Labor Day it was 70 degree water and fish decided to stay put in the lakes until water temps fall from the low 70’s to the low 60’s. River water comes from the lake above the dam so the lake has to cool off which isn’t an overnight process. As nights get colder lake water drops about a degree a day so it takes many cool nights to get water temps where they need to be to attract fall fish into a river.

Everyone remembers last fall’s run. We had a week of cold weather the last week of August. When they increased the flow just after Labor Day it was 62 degree water and all the river filled with fish in just a few days and fall fishing began with a bang. Not the same situation this fall season.

Fish will come in when conditions get right. The last few nights have been in the low 50’s and in the low 60 during the day. The cooling process is beginning to work because most people in the shop today are finding and catching fish and they are beauties. Today it’s raining hard and the air temperature is in the low 50’s so conditions are changing fast.

This email just came from our fisheries biologist Tim Obrey.

We wrapped up the weir project today.  We put 301 brook trout upstream and 189 salmon.  We saw improvements in fish size from the last time we operated the weir in 2010 and 2011. The catch in the weir went up and down with the warm weather. The warm weather the first week of Sept and again on the weekend of the 14th really slowed them down, but the number of fish coming into the river picked up this week.  The water temp today was still 62 F. This cold rainy weather will get them excited. We tended every day so not to hold the fish up for more than a few hours each day. We had around 75 fish today and several very nice salmon. We removed large sections of the weir before we left.  Some of the frame remains but the fish can pass freely. I’ll have a more detailed report later in the fall.

There isn’t a lot of time left for most waters but if mother nature continues to co-operate it looks like it’s going to be a very strong finish.