Waters heating up, so back to the brookies

Steve PiattListening to the locals, you'd think we were in the dead of winter up here, that mid- to late-February period when it seems to get dark at about 2 p.m., where everybody is tired of shoveling, and that rumbling you just heard was another snow avalanche off your roof. You really tiptoe into the post office, trying not to make eye contact with anyone, so you don't have to say "good morning" and risk getting punched in the throat.

But now, folks are complaining instead about the incessant rains we've had this spring and thus far this summer. Not just regular drizzles that send us scurrying off the patio and back inside, but real rain, the kind that creates a wrecking ball of water that roars down through the mountain with such force you hear it as much as you see it. The kind that has our little town as the lead story on the Channel 5 news out of Plattsburgh.

Yup, it's been that bad. And although we've had some flood damage around here – mostly confined to road washouts – it's amazing how quickly things flush themselves out and streams and rivers quickly become fishable once again.

For trout anglers, our issue now is water temperatures. We've had a steady diet of mid- to high-80s, which normally isn't a problem. But when the nightly lows remain above 60 degrees, it's just not enough to cool down many streams – including our prized water, the West Branch of the Ausable River.

I've always been sensitive when it comes to fishing over temperature-stressed trout, either heading out very early – I mean turkey-hunting early – or staying home altogether. It's pretty simple, and after a while you don't even need to make the trip out to jam a thermometer in the water. You just know it's time to leave the fish alone for a while, until the nights return to that typical 50-ish or even lows in the 40s.

Still, we have plenty of options up here, notably tons of brook trout waters that always run cold, some of which I fish even though I don't know their names. That's what we've been doing lately, hitting the mountain trickles where the fish are always cooperative and, now that I think of it, it feels pretty good to be in those cooler mountain air temps, too.

Sooner or later, the weather pattern will swing again and all our waters will be eligible for fishing. I hope that's the case; the trico hatch is coming. But if the water temps remain high, do the right thing and give the fish a break on those fishing spots where the trout need one.

A good barometer, if you want to know how hot is too hot, is about 68 degrees. And even then, play the fish quickly to avoid further stressing the trout.

Categories: New York – Steve Piatt

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