You know who isn’t a huge fan of summer? Trout! Summer heat waves impose serious stress and can even cause death. Trout and salmon that are already heat-stressed may not recover after being caught and released.
You can help these fish survive the summer by following a few simple tips (PDF).
Don’t move rocks in streams
Now that summer’s officially here it’s important to understand the detrimental impact building rock dams with the intent of creating swimming holes can have on trout streams.
Trout are sensitive, cold-water fish that require cold, clean water to survive. Water temperatures warmer than 68°F can put extreme stress on trout and temperatures approaching 75°F can even be lethal.
- Alter the natural flow of the stream by slowing down or trapping the water, allowing it to warm up faster.
- Prevent the migration of trout to colder headwaters where they can seek thermal refuge in the warm summer months, as well as spawning habitat in the spring and fall.
- Prevent upstream and downstream movement of animals, such as aquatic insects- a major diet item for trout.
- Weaken the stream bank, increasing erosion and sedimentation into the stream, further altering its natural flow.
So, this summer if your favorite swimming hole is drying up, think about the trout that live there. Instead of building a rock dam, maybe go for a walk downstream and find a natural pool to cool off in.
Photo at top: Rock dam. NYS DEC photo.