In search of cold water fisheries.
Although Labor Day marks the end of summer for many activities when it comes to trout fishing we are usually waiting for cooler weather to start up our pursuit. Like most fly fisherman I let trout survive the hot summer months and concentrate my efforts on other species, but there are waters that remain healthy with temperatures that are safe and very productive.
Many streams in Pennsylvania are Freestone. Which mean they are generated from water flowing over the surface of the land and depend on rainfall as their primary source of water. Therefore fluctuating in water volume, temperature and oxygen level. Yes trout do live in these waters year-round. Although, during the hot summer months they are doing everything they can to survive. In these types of conditions if trout are caught it often means death. The stress is just too much for the fish to overcome.
Clean, cold water that’s the ticket. It is why conservation groups like Trout Unlimited and the International Federation of Fly Fishers focus on protection. Coldwater fisheries don’t require much negative impact to result in destruction.
Healthy water temperatures for trout range from 40 – 65 degrees. Pennsylvania is blessed with having many cold water streams. You will find tumbling brooks running down mountainsides throughout Pennsylvania’s Appalachian range. Often these streams have a good ripraian zone, heavy tree canopy, and they receive shots of cold water in the form of spring seeps. A fine example of cold freestone water is Slate Run located in Lycoming county.
Of course the most famous gems are located in Pennsylvania’s central region boasting aquifers that filter through strata of Limestone thus providing consistent cold water with healthy Ph buffering qualities that is unique to the region. Big Fishing Creek in the Narrows section near Lamar is a great example.
Even spring fed waters warm to dangerous levels in the heat of the summer and should often be left unharmed. Please take numerous temperature readings and talk with local experts before fishing these waters during peak summer months.
Lastly but certainly not least are Pennsylvania’s tail waters. Water released from the bottom of large reservoirs provide some of the best fishing opportunities in the state during the summer months. In fact many of these fish excellent year-round. Tail water remains cold through the hot months because it is released from the deepest part of the reservoir. It is the same reason that lake anglers concentrate their trout fishing in deeper water during the summer months. Trout are cold water fish in fact even warm water species will go deeper to find cooler temperatures.
When fishing tail waters during the summer stay within the cold water zone near the water release. Use your thermometer to determine how far downstream the zone extends.
Two of the best tail waters in the state are the Delaware River and Youghiogheny River.
As another Labor Day season rolls by, I’m wishing you the very best of luck out there. Get ready the fishing is about to explode in the next few months!