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Old 11-16-2010, 10:57 AM
fishhead fishhead is offline
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Default Water temps/ active feeding

what would be the consensus on best water temp for feeding trout ? seems I'm always early in the season or late ! wild trout in particular, as I have had some spectacular days on hatchery fish when I could barely feel my hands and continually cleaning ice from guides. I know this is open to specualtion, and I am talking about water temps not air temps.
thanks Fishhead
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:02 PM
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I think it basically relies on what is the predominant food source at the moment. I carry a small seine to help me identify the patterns and colors. This can change hourly and it usually related to light, weather, and moon phases. I find that it takes a couple hours longer for fish to rise on sunny days in the winter than in the summer.

Here is a good opinionated article about water temperatures. I underlined some key points in the article.

CITE:
Water temperature and trout feeding habits
Are the textbooks right? On-stream experience indicates "no"
by Clive Schaupmeyer
(Adapted from The Essential Guide to Fly-Fishing by the author)

Quote:
Trout feed when there is food to be eaten. The amount they eat depends, of course, on their size, availability of food, and on water temperature. Water temperature affects their metabolic rate and desire or need for food. And presumably their eating habits depend on things we don't understand. Temperature is certainly something that we should not get too anal about ... but still it's interesting.

According to many sources, each species of trout has an ideal temperature range in which it feeds the heaviest. But this is likely of more academic interest than practical use to most of us out for the day or away on vacation. If you've just driven across two provinces (or three states) to fish in a famous river and the water temperature is outside of the reported ideal range what are you going to do? Drive home? No. You are going to fish and make the best of it. Perhaps the temperature may explain why we are not hammering them, but what's the sense in moaning about it - eh?

A few years ago I met a man from Rhode Island sitting on a bridge crossing the North Raven River in central Alberta. He was eating a cigar (yes, eating the cigar) and generally taking it easy while waiting for his partner to come off the stream. I had just stopped by the stream to kill an hour or two in the afternoon while waiting for the main event later that evening on another nearby river. (This was the afternoon matinee. Tonight was the full-length feature.)

Neither of us had caught fish in the couple of hours we were both on the water. It was a nice day. He was heading elsewhere the next day and I was anticipating the night shift. We were happy as clams.

Out of the willow-tangled meadows emerged a local angler all bedecked in the latest gear - right out of the catalogues. He inquired how we had faired and then told us he had caught only seven browns and the fish were decidedly off compared to a few days before when he had caught many more. He told us the water temperature was way down and well below the ideal brown trout range and he might as well go home. Clearly not an option for the cigar eater or me.

The survival range for trout is published at 35 to 75 °F (2 to 23 °C). And the optimum feeding range for most trout species is between about 50 and 68 °F (10 to 20 °C). Cutthroats and brook trout feed optimally at slightly cooler temperatures.

I am doubtful about the reported optimum feeding temperature ranges for trout. On-stream experience does not support the 'facts.' My brother, Gary, has a theory about feeding and temperature: the trend in temperature direction is more important than the actual temperature. At the lower range, he thinks that the exact water temperature is not as important as whether it's getting warmer or colder. If the stream temperature rises from 45 to 50 °F (7 to 10 °C), the trout will get jazzed and increase feeding - perhaps not as aggressively as they might at, say, 60 °F. But if the temperature drops from 55 down to 50 °F (13 to 10 °C) they will go off their feed. So you could have two identical water temperatures in the same creek, perhaps two or three days apart, and the feeding habits could be totally different. It depends on whether the water is getting warmer or colder.

Of course this is complicated by the relative insect activity as well. The bugs may also be turned off by falling water temperatures and therefore will not be as active. So, does trout feeding increase (as the temperature goes up) because they get hungry? Or because there is simply more bug activity?

Gary's theory may or may not be so, but on-stream experience seems to bear this out - sometimes. Trout feed better when the temperature is on the upswing (at the lower range) than they do when the water temperature is falling.

Higher temperatures definitely cause feeding activity to drop off. Trout fishing at lower elevations (and in southern latitudes) can be quite poor when there is a long hot spell. If the water temperature gets too high, the dissolved oxygen content can fall to fatal levels.

There's a final issue about the published temperature and activity ranges for trout. They just don't hold true at the lower end. They imply that trout simply will not eat when the water temperature hovers just above freezing. So why then are we able to catch trout in western streams from November through March when the water temperature is a degree or so above freezing? Sure the fish are sluggish, but they do eat our flies, and I have seen rainbows actually chase nymphs in ice-cold water. (And of course, the reference I found - stating the minimum temperature for survival is 35 °F - is simply wrong. River water can be supercooled to a half degree or so below freezing. The fish are sluggish, but they don't die.)

It gets more interesting yet. Hourly catch rates in winter when the water temperature is barely above freezing are often higher than in spring and summer. Go figure.

Closing thought .. .The friend you lie for has a liar as a friend.
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:21 PM
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Shawn,
A great article that I enjoyed. I have not thought about the temperature issue too much when it comes to trout fishing....mostly because I don't get to go enough for it really to matter. About the closest I get to checking the temperature is trying to plan a trip at a time when the odds are in favor of at least some favorable weather.

I have noted some temperature issues with redfishing though. I have found that in the winter, when it has been cold, that a small temperature increase can really turn the redfish on...the temp is not what appears to be the issue, but the increase. I have had some pretty good days when the water warmed up only a couple of degrees.

I have also seen the same in tailing fish....have caught some in November on a high tide after I had stopped seeing them tail. Had a warm front come in and decided to stop by a flat to see if the warm spell had them back on the high tide flat and it did. I caught 5 or 6 on high tides last November in 2 days of fishing.

John
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Old 11-16-2010, 01:29 PM
kentuckytroutbum kentuckytroutbum is offline
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Shawn-

Kind of makes you wonder if our preconceived "science" about feeding habits is all wet, and needs to be re-evaluated.

Bill
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Old 11-16-2010, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH0802 View Post
.....I have noted some temperature issues with redfishing though. I have found that in the winter, when it has been cold, that a small temperature increase can really turn the redfish on...the temp is not what appears to be the issue, but the increase. I have had some pretty good days when the water warmed up only a couple of degrees.....
John, Do you think that activity could be more related to barometric changes? I have been charting this in my fishing log and this is something that I have found very interesting.

Note:
http://www.quickoneplus.com/fish/art...age=barometric
Tracking:
http://weather.gladstonefamily.net/q...?date=20101107

Quote:
Originally Posted by kentuckytroutbum View Post
Shawn-

Kind of makes you wonder if our preconceived "science" about feeding habits is all wet, and needs to be re-evaluated.

Bill
Bill, I think this issue is too vast and too diverse to clarify with a simple philosophy. However, I think it is much easier to work at a stream/river level to understand feeding habits. I believe the feeding habits are diverse from comparing the TN streams and tail-waters alone. I enjoy this information not so much in how it relates to fly fishing; but, more in learning how nature is affected by different conditions.
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:01 PM
fishhead fishhead is offline
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Thanks for the replies, very interesting article. I seem to always be able to get time off to go fishing when temps are dropping. I will moniter stream temps closely next week and see how rising daytime temps effect the water temps and fishing. or vise versa.
always more to learn.
thanks Fishhead
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:07 PM
kentuckytroutbum kentuckytroutbum is offline
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John & Shawn-

I'm agreeing with you both. My comment was regarding so-called "old wives" tales that seem to keep getting repeated, such as spring or neap tides, sunny vs cloudy, warm vs cold, etc.

I strongly agree with John regarding warm & cold fronts as it relates to saltwater flats, and also stream fishing. I've noticed that a low pressure system, and related colder temps stop the fish from feeding. After it passes, the fishing seems to pick back up. I've always wondered how fish sense the approach of a low/cold front when they're in an incompressable liquid. What tells them that ?

Perhaps fish are just opportunistic predators that feed together for a while, and then cease for a while. Maybe one fish feeding stimulates the other fish to feed such as "I'm going to get mine before the other guy does." I don't know.

But I do appreciate your posted articles as it stimulates me to think about the factors that affect fishing.

Bill
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:36 PM
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Shawn,
I have not really done a good job of keeping barometric pressure information on my during my redfishing to know....I do know that some of my best fishing days fishing for largemouth bass have come just prior to a storm, and some of my worst were post front.

On some of the days that I know of specifically, it was just a warming trend that lasted long enough to raise the water temp without the presence of a storm. I know that one of the days last November was as a front was coming in after several warming days...it was raining while I fished that high tide.

I had to talk my fishing partner into fishing that day, because he saw the rain coming. We ended up catching two reds each that day. I will have to ponder this some more and pay more attention to the barometer when it comes to redfishing.

Bill,
As far as what tells the fish that a low/high pressure system is coming, I am not sure. I do know that when you have high pressure you can sometimes see that a river is flater than normal....

John
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:46 PM
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John, I've also wondered how they can detct a pressure change. Maybe it is detected by the swim bladder or the lateral line which is very sensitive. These things are a mystery that more than one angler has pondered. Regards, Silvercreek
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kentuckytroutbum View Post
I've always wondered how fish sense the approach of a low/cold front when they're in an incompressable liquid. What tells them that ?
I wonder if it has a noticeable effect on their air bladders?
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