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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This may seem like a silly question....but then again....

When a river blows out to chocolate brown, will steelies migrate back a bit to find cleaner water? I realize that for some rivers this wound mean miles and miles so I;m assuming not.

However, on smaller rivers this may only mean 10 to 20 mi. I know for a fact that some fish will move up a river several miles to "cool off", as per a biologist I talked to years ago, and then back down to resume migration - but what about when it gets muddy?

Is there a biologist in the house?
 

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Active Member
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I've heard that they will go up feeder streams if the water is clearer, if that answers your question.
 

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Piscatorial predilection
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I have found that under the conditions described fish will seek water that is less turbulent and that holds less suspended matter (mud & sand). Usually this means along the edges of the river flow.
If clearer feeder streams are available they will nose into them for relief also.
Also flatter sections of a run help sediments to settle, the inside (lower flow) tail out of a run or pool are worth looking for.
Remember this, the fish never get out of the water, they are in there somewhere. My suggestion is to think about where you would be headed if you were the fish, in a storm we usually seek shelter, so look for places that provide that.
You just might get lucky.



LB
 

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You have just touched upon another of the reasons that steelhead and other fish such as chinook are declining at least in rivers such as the Skagit that have been diked to hell and back. Steelhead and chinook spend up to 2 years in the river after they hatch. During high water the parr would hide out in the side channels and sloughs until the river returned to normal flows. I would assume that adult fish would do the same. Since we have removed all the side channels and access to the sloughs by diking and channelizing the main stem of the river the fish have no place to weather the storm. Just another piece of the puzzle to which there will be no solution.
 

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Migration to clearer water is fairly common especially on larger tribs. Often times at the confluence of a clear and muddy stream, fish will concentrate on the seam with the clearer water and may even travel several miles upstream even if they are eventually headed to the other stream.

On the other hand they may also utilize the high water event to cover some ground upstream. Papafish's reply is right on. Its surprising how shallow and how close to shore they will run. Remember they are seeking the easiest path upstream. The discolored water seems to make them feel more protected, which also contributes to this.

There was also an interesting thread a while back about thermal refuge for summer run fish. Some good info about migratory behavior used to seek optimal temperatures.
 

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Fly Fishing guide "The Bogy House" Lodge
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Some go to tribs and hang out where available, i really think that a lot of fish head down on shorter rivers, right back to the salt, I also think that they can handle the flows its the turbidity that causes them to see refuge.
I remember fishing Icee creek at real high water, they would lay right at the mouth and even up in it. I have seen this in numerous places. I have also caught steelhead that were very colored and had the tell tail rubbings of sitting under logs and rocks like they wiated it out and then some went back to the salt as they had fresh sea lice on them. I only see the rubbings after high water on the Coastal rivers.
 

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Susitna River salmon tagging studies in the '80s showed some big surprises with fish dropping back downstream hundreds of miles after tagging. Many spawning fish were found to have been tagged much farther upstream and some were well up various other tributaries.

This was not described as a function of high water avoidance, just data generated from tag recovery.

Un-numbered, colored plastic cord was run through the skin aft of the dorsal and tied in a simple overhand knot. It was easy to walk down the spawning area and piick out many fish of many different colors from a lot of different locations upstream. They paid $5 for the return of a tag and it made for easy beer money those days...
art
 

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I think the "feeder" creeks are the problem in most cases aren't they? At least where I fish they are.
Oldskool I said "feeder" creeks not irrigation ditches :clown:

Smaller tributaries usually will hold more fallen woody debris, have more shade (larger canopy) than an open river and therefore have better temperature/ clarity fluctuations than their larger counterparts. Steelhead prefer water at a certain temperature and will usually hang out downstream of a feeder creek (during the summer months) or enter it for the cooler water. During the winter months they might enter a creek to get out of the cloudy water during a flood.
 

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I caught my largest trout on the Yakima during a total blow out. The lower camp ground at Red's was totally flooded. So I decided for just a lark to throw out an olive San Juan Worm in a little pool around some trees where it is usually lawn and tent camping. Didn't expect to catch anything. The main river was running chocolate brown. Three or feet of water was covering the camping areas by the boat launches. And, to my surprise this 20 inch plus fat rainbow slammed into the fly.
I think that the trout find quiter water near their regular feeding grounds, that's my guess.

Keith
 

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Proud to Be Alaskan
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Susitna River salmon tagging studies in the '80s showed some big surprises with fish dropping back downstream hundreds of miles after tagging. Many spawning fish were found to have been tagged much farther upstream and some were well up various other tributaries.

This was not described as a function of high water avoidance, just data generated from tag recovery.

Un-numbered, colored plastic cord was run through the skin aft of the dorsal and tied in a simple overhand knot. It was easy to walk down the spawning area and piick out many fish of many different colors from a lot of different locations upstream. They paid $5 for the return of a tag and it made for easy beer money those days...
art
can you point me to that study, that sounds interesting
 
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