Spring Thaw Fishing
Posted In Cold Water Species - Trout on Sunday, December 9th 2018
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Spring Thaw Fishing

Northeast Outdoors Experience

 

Winters come and winters go and will affect the amount of water to be expected in the streams and rivers for the upcoming trout and salmon seasons by the accumulated snow winter has left behind. Gradual or periodic melts that turn the white stuff into crystal clear water that drains off into the waterways will provide a more controlled and less contaminating effect. A sudden prolonged warm spell that causes a dramatic snowmelt will force higher levels of water volume over the surface of the ground to travel down rivulets and seasonal streams washing with it debris and potential contaminants. The end result is cloudy waters in main streams and rivers as they are flodded with meltwaters.

Debris in river and stream currents is predictable as to dispersal. As it is heavier andposseses a greater surface area than water molecules, it is subject to gravity and the momentum formed by the current. Debris will find its way into the main force of the current, be deposited in the eddies behind obstacles such as rocks or logs, and follow the laws of physics and be drawn to the outside of bends and into the deeper water. While visibility will be lowered because of the clouding of the water, the presence of food is also acknowledged by the fish. The result is that the "edges" of the current become ambush zones.

Lakes and ponds are significantly less affected by spring run off variables as the filtering action by gravity takes place long before the debris makes it far into the lakes. Inlets into ponds and lakes during the spring are often good locations to find hungry fish as they provide a continuous source of food for smaller fish who in turn provide an abundance of food for larger fish. It is the food chain in action and will be somewhat regulated by the rate of spring runoff.

As the spring progresses and melt rates stabilize, trout and salmon will assume normal habits and habitat by relocating to traditional lurking zones. These areas will still rely on the current to bring their food to them, but the fish will have better visibility and in moving water, visibility is everything. As water levels begin to slowly recede back to normal capacities, fishing methods and techniques will return the focus to a more careful approach and presentation. Brief flooding periods will alter the feeding patterns somewhat with periods of heavy rains during the spring and summer, but these periods are usually quick to disperse.

Spring can also bring ice jams into play. These large sections of ice at the mercy of swollen currents can both carve away at the riverbanks releasing more debris into the water as well as creating ice dams to flood strategic areas such as sweeping bends and narrow passageways. These large chunks of ice will be broken up and release critical back pressure with time, but the flooding to the surrounding areas will transfer a significant amount of wash into the rivers. The presence of these large sections of ice is also directly related to the speed of spring melt.

The ideal situation for optimal spring fishing conditions would be periods of spring "thaw" followed by moderating temperatures. The more gradual the transition from winter to spring, the easier and better the early spring fishing conditions will be for tying into some very hungry and willing trout or salmon in the rivers and streams. What lies ahead for melt conditions, only time will tell. In the meantime, get to tying more flies. You can never have enough.

 

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