Well, warm weather arrived in the Tahoe Basin and most of the northwest with some serious aggressiveness. Extreme heat and temperature records are being shattered all along the west coast, and our local salmonids are feeling these temperatures too. The Hoot Owl closure is in effect, so carry a water thermometer on the river with you.
When water temperatures reach 67 degrees or above, most salmonids are unable to de-stress after a fight. Meaning, although they may have swam off strong when released, they most likely are to die in the next couple days, the result of a condition called delayed mortality. Read more about drought, delayed mortality and this summer’s low water here.
Tahoe City to Truckee: 377
Truckee to Boca: 392
Boca to Farad: 450
Farad to Stateline: 492
In the cooler mornings, our guides have been finding fish on a variety of summer flies including caddis in sizes 14-20, yellow sallies and some golden stoneflies, some PMD’s, and some green drakes. Crayfish are also producing and will for the entire summer.
Remember if you happen to find some bugs on top there may be fish rising there too! The opportunity to land a fish on a dry fly on the Truckee is one that shouldn’t be missed out on. Dry droppers or hopper droppers are also working well in the mornings given their more subtle appearance, plus you can fish nymphs without giving up the chance at a dry fly eat!
With the warmer water temps, fish are moving into their faster, more oxygenated water. Don’t be afraid to fish riffles, and fish any bubble lines you come across. You never know where that Truckee trout is hiding. With the high temps and increased risk of delayed mortality, limit the fishes exposure out of the water. If you can’t hold your breath the entire time the fish is out of the water, you can be sure the fish is having an equally difficult time. Realistically, you only need a few seconds for a picture anyways.
Once water temperatures reach that 67 degree mark, that doesn’t mean you have to stop being outside. The Truckee-Tahoe area has lots of outdoor summer activities to offer, so once the water gets too hot you can try climbing, golf, mountain biking, disc golf, the list goes on. We also have some good fishing for warmwater species that aren’t as sensitive to these water temperatures.
Remember that the purpose of the Hoot Owl closure isn’t to limit fishing pressure; it’s to protect our fish. I encourage you to keep this in mind when you’re fishing, and to educate other anglers you meet out on the water about this as well. Tight lines everyone!
Those of you who have been reading our blog posts for a while may remember an update on the removal deal of the four lower Klamath River dams. While things on this front have been somewhat quiet in the past few months, a big step towards completion has just been reached with the official transfer of ownership of the dams from Pacificorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation.
Just a few days ago, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the transfer of the four lower dams to KRRC, one of the first big steps in the long process of these dams coming down for the sake of salmon and a healthy river. While the removal is to begin in 2023, seeing the steps made along the way are reassuring that the project is on track for completion.
The Truckee River has been putting out high flows, plenty of bugs, and excellent opportunities for anglers! The weather has been warm and the nights has been staying close to freezing. There is a possibility of a small snowstorm later this week, so keep those warm layers with you just in case the weather turns while you’re on the water.
Tahoe City to Truckee: 514
Truckee to Boca: 732
Boca to Farad: 766
Farad to Stateline: 875
The water is high, but still pretty clear for the time of year. While the bump in flows has allowed us to get away with some bigger, flashier bugs, we are still seeing the most success with smaller sizes. Baetis and March Browns have been some of the most consistent nymphs, and are hatching often along the river. And some of our seasonal big bugs are starting to appear as well. Our first carpenter ant eat of the summer came one of last week’s guided trips! As of late, we’ve been seeing a different, smaller skwala than those typical of late spring fishing. Although they’re somewhat sparse along the river, it’s worth carrying a few nymphs or dries that can match these.
With the water warming up, crayfish are beginning to show themselves too! These are a favorite on the Truckee trout’s menu, and one of the main sources of calories for them during the summer months. These are worth a shot fishing now, and will only heat up from here on out! Streamers are also heating up as fish become more aggressive and are willing to move further to eat. Now is the time to get out on the river with some variety in your flybox!
Striped bass can be targeted by anglers anywhere from the northern Gulf of Mexico to as far north as the St. Lawrence River in Canada. They hold a special place in the angler’s heart for those who have interacted with them. Their ridiculous aggressiveness and hard-molded attitudes have landed them at or near the top of many angler’s target species lists.
In the 1970s and 80s, the millions of “stripers” around Chesapeake Bay had declined to a fraction of what it once was, mainly due to overfishing. In response, Congress passed the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act in 1984, and several states introduced striped bass fishing bans for as much as five years. These preventative measures allowed the striped bass population to rebound to the point of being classified as a recovered species.
Now, Atlantic striped bass populations are at the lowest they have been in the last quarter century since the species was considered recovered. Again, overharvesting appeared to be the main culprit, though habitat loss, lack of oxygen and food, and pollution also played a role.
Luckily, the Striped Bass Board of the Atlantic states has been developing a new long term recovery plan for stripers. The plan has support from the American Saltwater Guides Association, and after a public hearing last week, the draft is moving forward. With input from public comment, this plan is more conservation-based than originally proposed. Learn more about the new plan for striped bass at the Flylords website.
Summer is creeping! A few of the past days have been in the mid-70s (in April too!), and the foreseeable future is warm and dry with average daytime temps fluctuating between the high 50s and high 60s. The Tahoe Basin seems to have received all the snow it’s going to get for the season, with a final storm delivering 3-6 inches a couple weeks ago.
Flows on the Truckee are still pretty high, but down slightly from last month. The water is still clear, and as always the fish are still biting!
Tahoe City to Truckee: 397
Truckee to Boca: 592
Boca to Farad: 648
Farad to Stateline: 740
Our guides have been finding fish mostly on indicator nymphing rigs. Fish are in the slow to medium paced runs and as the weather warms up they’ll move more into the faster water. Skwalas are pretty much over and the net big bug is on the menu: March Browns! These popular mayflies are all over the place and currently a priority for our Truckee trout’s diet.
Stoneflies have been producing well recently, as well as worms and typical mayfly nymphs in sizes 14-18 (patterns like pheasant tails or copper johns produce well). With all the sunny weather, baetis hatches are few and far between. However, baetis nymphs have been producing! Caddis are also certainly on the menu. For March Brown’s, make sure you have some larger mayfly patterns in sizes 10-12 ready to go with you.
While most of our success is on indicator nymphing setups, the sightline nymphing is picking up as water temperatures start reaching the 50’s. Dry dropper rigs have also been getting some love as of late. Terrestrials are just around the corner, so keep a few bigger foam dries with you for those dry dropper rigs.
When it comes to water levels, the most significant factor is snowpack, which determines our water levels in lakes and reservoirs the beginning of each spring. Bigger winters mean higher water levels and cooler water temperatures for the rest of the summer and into fall, when daytime temperatures drop into the 60’s and the nights begin to freeze. For trout, a big winter means an easier summer, with healthier living conditions for them. With healthier river conditions come healthier fish populations.
To say that the winter of 2020-2021 was small would be an understatement. The classic springtime high water is running more low and clear than usual, and our snowpack, which historically has been skied on into late June and even July, is nearly diminished below 7,000 vertical feet.
For a Truckee River fish, the low snowpack is bad news. Drought conditions affect everything in the ecosystem; birds, plants, insects, wildlife, and fish depend on water. With less than average, we are looking at a long, dry summer.
Those who visit Truckee often come for the fishing. If you stopped in at our local shop Trout Creek Outfitters last summer, you may have been given a warning not to fish later than noon, or even 10:00 am because of high water temperatures. Trout are cold water species. When water temperatures rise above a certain point, their mechanism for staying cool vanishes, like somebody took the cooling system out of your vehicle while you drive it around in the hot sun.
A rule that fly fishers have followed for decades is to stop fishing when water temps hit 67 degrees or higher. Multiple studies have shown this temperature to be lethal to a stressed or tired out trout. Anglers who ignore the guidelines of the water temperature end up hurting and often killing fish.
A fishes gills filter dissolved oxygen (commonly referred to as DO) from the water around it and use that dissolved oxygen to breathe. With high water temperatures come less DO. Trout that are targeted in high water temps get worked up during the fight, and with less DO in the water, cannot get themselves back under control. It would be like if you had just ran the fastest mile run of your life while breathing through a wet cotton shirt.
The cotton shirt analogy often leads to delayed mortality, a condition that deprives a trout of its needed oxygen to return to normal. After being overheated, overtired, and stressed for days after begin caught and released, the fish eventually dies, in desperate need of cool, oxygenated water. This defeats the purpose of catch and release fishing.
In response to these high water temperatures, anglers have come up with and tried to enforce what is referred to as a Hoot-Owl Closure. It’s a voluntary river closure that begins whenever water temperatures reach that dreaded 67 degree mark.
Northern Sierra local John Baiocchi recommends the following for Hoot-Owl Closures:
Carry a thermometer and take water temp readings each hour.
Fish first light until 11:00am.
Use heavier tippet for a quicker fight to ensure a safer release.
Stop fishing when water temps reach 67 degrees and up.
Educate other anglers on water temperature etiquette.
Baiocchi recently passed away, these tips are from a dated blog post on his website.
This year will likely be a drought year, and high river temperatures are expected to occur much earlier than usual this year. Do your part by carrying a water temperature thermometer and taking care of our most precious resource. You can also swing by Trout Creek Outfitters or check out our bimonthly fishing report for details on average water temperatures on the Truckee and its surrounding local rivers.
Patagonia is well known for its clothing and the culture that goes with it. In a recently published arcticle, Steve Duda meets with California Trout employees, tribal members, farmers and wild steelhead to tell the story of the largest river restoration effort in history on the Klamath River in California.
“Born With This” describes everything about the dam removal effort, and the people who are fighting it. The twenty-minute read is available for free here. Any salmon and steelhead enthusiast will tell you that the Klamath dams need to come down for the species to have a chance for population recovery. While I’ve tried to explain the developments of the restoration plans, the sole article to read that presents everything you need to know about it is “Born With This”. Take the time to read it here, and consider sharing it with a friend.
Check out more of CalTrout’s work on the Klamath River restoration and other efforts at their website.
For anglers, Florida is home to world-class saltwater fishing, as well as exhilarating canal and lake fishing for bass and many other species of gamefish. Whether its sight fishing rolling tarpon or casting into tight mangroves for snook, the sunshine state is a fishing Mecca.
Florida also has a problem. The incredible fishing and clear blue seas are under threat, from an abandoned phosphate plant.
Piney Point, a community in the Tampa Bay region, is where this now-famous phosphate plant resides. The issue is pollution. The initial warning was a catastrophe alert, beginning with a leak in one of the plant’s storage ponds. Over 300 homes were evacuated in the event of a rupture and a wall of water pushing through the area.
Luckily, the threat was avoided, Manatee County officials averting the flood by slowly draining the pond into Tampa Bay, at a rate of 35 million gallons per day.
The leaking pond resides in a large stack of phosphogypsum, which is a waste product of fertilizer production. This particular waste product is radioactive. Florida’s agriculture commissioner warns of a possible environmental catastrophe, and with good reason. The toxins flowing into Tampa Bay may well cause more lethal red tide algae blooms, endangering local fish and wildlife.
Luckily, a flood was avoided, and it seems the end of the Piney Point situation is near. The event is being seen as a wake up call for environmentally safe mine deposits. If Alaska’s proposed Pebble Mine had the same issue it would be a much bigger event, with more toxins affecting thousands of salmon and other fish and wildlife of Bristol Bay. Humans and fish alike can experience severe consequences from mining deposits and ponds like the one in Piney Point. To protect the fish that give us entertainment, food, healthy waters and tradition, it’s in the best interests of anglers to observe the flaw in this type of mining and advocate for something better.