What temp is too hot for fishing lakes?

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Mark Yoshida, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. Saw some posts about temperature at lakes being too hot to fish. I know of a lake that was stocked by a club in the past month and I have been fishing it and having a ball for the past 3-4 weekends. Talked with a member of the club at the lake and he said "Have fun C&R", before he left.
    Not many people fishing it but always others on the lake since its a drive for me to get there.
    If the lake was going to get too hot to fish, then why would they stock it with trips (also some smaller)?
    I am trying indicator fishing with chironomids, not sure how long that will last but learning to tie. I play the fish as quick as I can and they always swim away strong on the release.

  2. If your fins melt when you first step in the water....there's a clue! :beer1:
  3. Hey Steve,
    You better get your chores and honey list done so you can go fishing. Give me a call to plan next trip after this weekend.
  4. Once the surface temperature hit 70F or better I think it starts to put a lot of stress on the fish. For myself I wouldn't fish a lake if the surface temperature was over 72F.

  5. If you are fishing for Bass or Carp it does't really matter, in fact the hotter the better for Carp. That's when the turd hatch turns on.:ray1:
  6. I just got back from a trip to Boise where one of my wife's cousins took me fishing down to a trophy trout reservoir on the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in northern Nevada. Despite water temps of 68º, we had a good time with the Gerrard x Kamloops hybrids that can exceed 20". We had several fish expire on release that I suspect had been caught and released earlier in the day and simply couldn't handle the lower oxygen content in the warm water after their second struggle. I think 68º is probably too warm unless you play the fish quickly and release it gently.



  7. I would love to see a fisheries biologist weigh in on this one. This time of year, most trout hold below the thermocline and the tempature there is much cooler. For lakes that go deeper than 20', I'm sure the fish can find cooler water pretty much all summer long. Knowing that oxygen levels fall as you go deeper, what I don't know is at what depth the fish become strained because of the lower oxygen levels at the depth they are holding rather than the tempature of the water near the surface.

  8. I've been taught, maybe right or wrong, that the time in the fight is so critical. Because of that I normally forego my preferred 4wts at lowland lakes for 5wts and a bit more backbone to get 'em on and get 'em in if I've not moved on to beaches, flowing water or higher elevations. I'm still new to this trout thing though, and I'm hopefully not doing anything to damage the low land fisheries that I have come to frequent. When I do fish them I tend to fish them deeper during the day. I too would like to hear from a biologist on if, even with my uprodding and deeper presentation, I should stop fishing for trout altogether at a certain temperature and move elsewhere or on to spiny rays.
  9. I complain about the lakes here in the desert being to warm to C&R.
    A lot of the complaint is I've got to drive an hour and only fish for a couple of hours in the AM then wait all the rest of the day to fish the last couple of hours until dark, because it's to hot for me to be out fishing.
    I don't like to kill fish (even hatchery clones) unless I'm gonna eat'em, and a limit of two is not worth the hour drive.
  10. Well, Brian Chan answered my email. His take on this question is
    "Hi Mark,
    I would have some concerns about trout surviving catch and release fishing in that lake if the surface temps get above 70 F. 10 to 12 ft max depth is extremely shallow and could potentially be quite warm even at the bottom. The lake or pond may, however, be spring fed which would keep temps down. You should carry a digital pocket thermometer when fishing. I always record the surf temp when out fishing as all insect emergences are tied to water temperatures. My sounder has a temperature probe in the transducer. I use quick release indicators when fishing water in excess of 14 feet of water. I use 10 ft rods when indicator fishing.



    Brian Chan
    Riseform Flyfishing Ventures
    Stillwater Seminars, Guiding Services
  11. Mark, your question is a complex question to answer as there are so many factors that get involved, as others have addressed. First, it depends on what type of fish you are fishing for; others have mentioned that it doesn't matter for bass or carp. Lahontan Cutthroats are much more tolerant of hot water temperatures than rainbows and browns. For rainbows, I'd say that temperatures at the surface of above 68 degrees would cause a fair amount of fish that are C&R to die. But, it also depends on how skillful you are at quickly playing a fish and how quickly you release it. At temperatures above 70 degrees, if you have to revive a rainbow, chances are it will probably die even if it appears to swim away ok. Just because it doesn't float to the surface belly-up doesn't mean it survived, because it could swim to the bottom and die. For warm water fishing, I recommend using stout tippets (like 2X) to enable you to bring the fish in quickly, and I recommend using a net so as to not overplay the fish, and I also recommend using the Ketchum Quick Release tool or similar device to pop the hook out quickly. I also believe that if you look at the fish's eye direction, it will tell you how stressed the fish might be. For example, in Kent's photos, the fish in the first photo appears to be looking down, and so I think that fish is still in good shape. The fish in the second photo is looking straight out, like a dead fish in the fish market, so that suggests to me that the fish is very stressed and close to death. If the fish is looking straight out, don't stop to take photos and try to release and revive the fish as quickly as possible. As Ed said, the time of the fight is critical to these fish in the warm summer months. I think that if you spend more than a minute playing the average rainbow, that is too long (obviously there are the exceptionally hard fighting fish that will take longer to land, but a minute should be a good rule of thumb).

    As Brian Chan said, it also depends on the depth of the lake, whether the lake has cool spring water feeding it, whether the lake has algae bloom, whether there is a lot of decaying vegetation on the bottom of the lake to suck up oxygen, the number of fish in the lake, how much fishing pressure the lake receives and on and on. It would be great if we could all have a portable dissolved oxygen sensor to measure the oxygen content in the water, especially when doing warm water fishing, but unfortunately, those sensors are way too expensive and difficult to use.

    Even for Lahontan Cutthroats that came from a desert lake environment and tolerate warm water temperatures better than rainbows, I think it is better to avoid shallow lakes like Lenore in the summer and fish other lakes that have deeper water where the Lahontans can find good depths and a good thermocline layer that has the maximum oxygen levels and cooler water temperatures.

    If you really want to fish for rainbows in the summer, go higher in altitude, because the higher altitude lakes stay cooler longer. Many of the BC lakes at 3,500 feet of elevation or higher fish well through the summer, as do some of our Washington alpine lakes. You could also fish the rivers, because the rivers tend to be cooler than the lakes and have better oxygen levels.

    As Kent mentioned, if you catch a fish that had recently been caught before, it will be more stressed and likely to die. Therefore, you should try to find lakes that have less fishing pressure and fresher fish to avoid killing too many fish. The size of the fish also matters, because larger fish use more oxygen during the fight, whereas smaller fish use less oxygen.

    Ok, I've said more than enough... Much of what I wrote is just my opinion, and not based on scientific evidence, so don't take it as gospel. Eye direction is one of those things, but keep an eye on the fish's eye direction and see if it doesn't prove me right.

    I'm not saying one shouldn't fish for rainbows in warm water lakes, but you definitely have to take more precautions to avoid killing fish.

    Tight lines!

  12. I never take a fish that I''m going to release out of the water too. The other thing I do is to take a picture is lay my rod handle next to the fish in the water to give a size guage. I try to put a couple of wraps of thread around my rods at 18 and 24 inches, most rod handles are within an inch or so of being the same. If in a boat there's usually some one else to take the picture and in my float tube I don't risk the camera getting wet. A minute goes fast and if you have a fish out of water even a minute it could easily die I read in an article some place. I think it as Dave Whitlock's. Tight lines! Bob
  13. If you need a fish fix when the water temps are too high you can use a trick I learned from Jack Shaw's book "Fly Fishing The Trout Lakes". Jack called it the "bump and run". He cuts the point off his fly, so that it doesn't penetrate the fish's mouth. You get the bump of the strike, the fish runs, jumps and comes unbuttoned at the slightest hint of any slack line. One word of caution, if you keep the pressure on, it is possible to actually land one once in awhile.
  14. A person could always put a pair of boots on and hit the high lakes. The high country is all melted out now and the fishing can be really fun. 'tis the season!
  15. Good advice Allison, I believe I hear the Gifford Pinchot calling my name.
  16. I have always used 70 degrees as the cutoff point. Fished RS early yesterday, water temp was 68 at 6:00. Caught several on an intermediate line and were released in short order and in good shape. Switched to fishing deep and as the morning progressed, the fish weren't as feisty when released...just 2 weeks ago my best fish[and fight] was flipping me off as he swam away! The last fish was hitting my fly at 40' feet, so I started stripping in fairly quickly, all the while he kept hitting the fly, finally hooking up in 10' of water...a really nice sized triploid, but took awhile to release him. I kept the net under him and he just hung in a couple feet of water...knew he wasn't going to make it, so 'had' to BBQ last night. That will be my last day there until late Sept or early October.....time for the salt and rivers! I'm not saying you shouldn't fish there.....possibly late in the evening and shallow is perfectly OK.....a biologist would be the one to expand on that one.
  17. I generally start thinking of quitting stillwaters when an Intermediate line quits catching trout. I can count on that happening when the surface temp is in the 60's. At Martha Lake, that's also when the perch start showing up on my line. For me, that's as good of an indicator as any to start thinking of either hitting the salt or heading for higher elevations. Yeah, sometimes I will switch to a faster sinking line, but I know that time is near for moving on.

    --Dave E.

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