Hot Water Fishing
Blog by: Lloyd Tackitt 7/16/2018
River fishing is my favorite, but it does have some issues.
When the water is low enough to wade it heats up and cools off quickly, thin water like that changes temperatures rapidly. It's nine miles or so from the dam to where I fish. In the cold months that means the water gets as cold as the air by the time it reaches me - or nearly that cold. It definitely gets too cold for the fish to be active enough to bite much.
In the summer it's the opposite, the water gets hot. Not just warm, but hot. Actually hot. It gets hot along the shallower places when the current is slow, as it often is in the summer. In mid-channel, where the water is waist deep, it is not quite as hot, but it is very warm. Warm enough to stress the fish.
Given a drought as we are in now, the only water that enters the river is from a couple of creeks, and what little bit leaks around the dam's gates, so the river water heats up something fierce. In the deepest places the river isn't hot but it is very warm, as warm as the shower you take in the winter. Easily 85 degrees in the coolest places and hitting over 90 in the hotter places.
And this hot to very warm water poses a problem. The bite slows down as the water heats up beyond skin temperature, but the real problem is that the fish can not take a lot of stress in that situation. I catch and release for the most part, I don't want to wear a fish completely out. I can tell the difference in how much of a fight they put up in hot water, definitely less energy and stamina. So I don't fish when the water is hot. It doesn't feel right to me to do that.
When the ambient air temperature gets up above 100 or so Whitney Dam is called on to supply electricity - peak demand time starts around 3pm - and they let out water so as to generate. This water usually doesn't arrive down here until 10pm or so. By morning it has begun to drop and by late evening it is back down to wade depth.
Best of all, it is much cooler water. Water from deep in the lake, and Whitney is a deep lake, that traveled here after dark, it is refreshingly cooler. Not cold by any stretch of the imagination, but cooler. Cool enough that the fish aren't being stressed by heat.
So the best height of summer fishing here is when the weather is so hot that electric demand goes way up with all the air conditioners running. And this week is going to be good. Forecast for the next seven days is for 104 to 106 all week.
For fishing this time of year that is. Fishing late in the evening after the sun is nearing the horizon, when the shadows get long. For about three hours before it gets dark. Not during the sun's high hours, that can make you sick, even when wading, when we are in triple digits. Wading in hot water under a high summer sun will give you a beating. As it does the fish.
Early morning would be outstanding except the water is still a bit too high for wading.
All weekend the river was low, until last night. But last night they generated...