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What About the Trout?


This year…Wow! Water, water, everywhere. While visiting the conservation properties this spring, runoff was the consistent topic of conversation. It seems that many people were wondering “What happens to trout during floods?” One would think that floods would turn their world upside down.

Well, according the experts what goes on for trout during a flood is … not too much, particularly at the population level. Primarily, it sure beats the drought that has prevailed over the previous 20 years! While the muddy waters prove to be frustrating for anglers, a year of high water will affect the aquatic ecology for the better for several years to come. It turns out that if you truly like trout this should be a happy occurrence.

The big plus is that a flushing flow of water washed silt off spawning gravels (or at least redistributes it) and reproduction is what it is all about for trout, which can lay 4,000 eggs per female. Most people never even see that many fish in a year!

Of course, some juvenile fish get redistributed, but adults find locations where the current isn’t raging and go about their lives. Another often forgotten plus is the recent August “warm water warnings”, where water temperatures approached lethal levels in some of our best trout streams. That is not going to happen this year. The floods also tend to bring a rush of nutrients into the waters, which under some circumstances, brings with it a rich array of water bugs and invertebrates that can benefit trout production.

Low and behold, it turns out that trout are adapted to flooding; perhaps better than we humans.

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