Many of our cold water fisheries out here in the West have a bit of a problem as of late. We have less water, more people using it, and hotter temperatures. When these things combine, it can have deadly consequences for trout as water temps can become lethal in a hurry.
Just a few few weeks ago, a buddy and I were fishing the upper Colorado River after a spell of hot weather and pretty low water. Toward the end of the day I thought it might be a good idea to check the water temps as we knew they were not exactly where they should be. My thermometer read nearly 70 degrees. We couldn’t believe it and decided to stop fishing immediately. The water felt warm, but not that warm… While we did the responsible thing, I know many people do not. It’s easier said then done.
Thanks to the folks over at 719fly, this little graph shows the different temps and what they do to fish. The yellow font is 68 degrees and the point when you should absolutely stop fishing for trout. Realistically, you should watch it at about 65. Here in Colorado we have no laws that close rivers when they get too hot; rather groups like Colorado Trout Unlimited place voluntary closures on specific areas and ask people not to fish. I know Montana places closures on certain rivers if need be.
What do you all think? Should there be a federal limit on temperature and trout fisheries? Do your states have laws on the books regarding this? Do you check the temperature when it’s hot, and do you stop fishing if the temps reach critical levels?