Thoughts From A Heatwave…

John Bailey

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Nov 19, 2020
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56
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Mid-July, down here in Devon, on the Exe where temperatures hit 30 degrees plus most of yesterday afternoon. The whole country, we know, is wilting under a cloudless sky, and though it might have been so-called ‘freedom day’, there was no respite from the sun.

Of course, there was barely any water, James in Dulverton’s great tackle shop told me that it had barely rained on Exmoor for six weeks. Most of my beat was shin-deep, and the trout were invisible under rocks and tree roots. And as for salmon, well, one sad creature had been spotted on Friday last I was told, but but by now he must be as pickled as we are.

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I knew it was absurd to be fishing. I was only there for “work”, as a recce, and my heart wasn’t in it at all. Two things. I’d fished the Barle extensively back in the summers of the Eighties, and I knew all about hot weather trout. Or, rather, nothing about how to catch hot weather trout, in the daytime at least. Then I’d picked off odd nice fish on dries under dense tree canopies, fishing them on the dangle an inch above the water, so there was no line to break the surface film. But, for various reasons, this would not be practicable here on the Exe in 2021.

And, secondly, should I be fishing at all? Last night I noted that back in Herefordshire/Wales, the Wye & Usk Foundation has suspended fishing for the duration of the heat in order to protect the fish, game and coarse both. Of course, Exe water isn’t made up largely of chicken excreta like the Wye, and there might be more oxygen down here as a result, but I’d still be anxious if I thought there was any chance of a catch.

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Spot the trout!

We are back down there again today. A very long, spider’s web leader? A French leader, or even a Euro one? A tiny nymph? I couldn’t imagine even a pint of maggots being much use, but at least we’ll have peace, and in a world of floods, droughts and economic, pandemic, and political chaos, that’s more than enough.
 

raphael

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Joined
Feb 13, 2010
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419
Location
France, near Sancerre
A very long, spider’s web leader? A French leader, or even a Euro one? A tiny nymph?
None of them: you may use only your camera. Then wait for better conditions in order to fish. Any salmonid caught in such hot water will face huge difficulties to recover, if only it can. I've read that those fish can survive above 25°C (up to 28°C for salmon) but they stop feeding and they must increase their blood flow: their earth beat can reach 200bpm! Hence they can not afford any extra effort or they will die from earth attack. So please do not force them to produce this effort...

R
 

webblade

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Jun 6, 2013
Messages
349
Location
Kildare Ireland
None of them: you may use only your camera. Then wait for better conditions in order to fish. Any salmonid caught in such hot water will face huge difficulties to recover, if only it can. I've read that those fish can survive above 25°C (up to 28°C for salmon) but they stop feeding and they must increase their blood flow: their earth beat can reach 200bpm! Hence they can not afford any extra effort or they will die from earth attack. So please do not force them to produce this effort...

R
Well said 👍
 

Whinging pom

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Jun 10, 2021
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211
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Northants
Before I was too aware about oxygen levels and heat I remember one one season when I realised the fish I was releasing were taking an age to recover and I was having to reach out into the faster flows to get enough water through the gills to pick them up. Fishing for me stopped that year.

For those who don’t measure temps just like to pass an experience on our little brook from June this year. We measured the temp upto 19c over a few days until it tipped 20 and emails were starting to circulate about stopping fishing for a while ( with some resistance from people saying it should be a common sense decision or the members ). luckily the rains came the water levels rose with them and 3 days later we had clear waters back down at 14c and the brook came alive again and the mayflies reappeared in numbers.

From my limited experience stopping fishing to give your water a chance isn’t the end of the season, it’s just a brief window to give help preserve the stock. Chances are the Heatwave will end in thunderstorms and a deluge.. it usually does, and everything will be freshened up nicely and for a day or two it will be like duffers fortnight all over again!

On a walk a few mornings back while it was 32c on the bank . I waded midstream surveying the brook for future habitat work I noted 6-8 trout feeding actively, mostly small, just passed the parr marked stage, 8 inch or so.
They are feeding and probably need to. But be aware there’s really not much dissolved oxygen in the water for these beautiful little fish to recover from the extra effort of panic from an encounter with a fly Rod.
The rivers look wonderful in this weather and are so cool to Wade in and crystal clear . It’s a amazing what else you see and learn about your patch without the fly rod in hand to distract you. I say if your lucky enough to have access to a water, go and enjoy it, look closer at those insects, the plants, watch the food lanes snd if you do see fish on the rise look at why they’ve chosen that spot, it’s amazing what you can discover! Go down and pick up some lessons from the river.
 
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Whinging pom

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Jun 10, 2021
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211
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Northants
I’ve just come back from our stream the temp has hit 22.7c
On the 20th ( only a couple of days ago ) it was 18c. It gone up so quickly!
We are not the hottest part of the country. We have had cloudy skies and a thunder storm.
This is the second time this year it’s past 20c.

Its hard not to accept that this and possibly worse is an annual trend in the future.
Every club and stream / river is different,but for a club like us with 20 or 30 paying members and a few miles of fishing, it seems obvious to me at least how we should meet this challenge, whether I can convince the AGM is another matter.?!

Dissolved oxygen meters are not a huge outlay for the membership.
One member should monitor that and the temps throughout the hottest months. Thankfully these days everyone is contactable by text if not email and with advice from the EA or FBA of a baseline figure to suspend fishing its pretty straight forward out out an alert
Has any other clubs taken this route and had any experience of the meters?
There’s quite a few on the market with vastly differing prices . It would be great to get some advice and maybe some other members of the forum are in clubs that would benefit from the info too.
 
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Mr Notherone

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Jul 19, 2013
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4,373
Location
Monmouthshire
Its hard not to accept that this and possibly worse is an annual trend in the future.
Every club and stream / river is different,but for a club like us with 20 or 30 paying members and a few miles of fishing, it seems obvious to me at least how we should meet this challenge, whether I can convince the AGM..

Sad indeed if you can’t. Perhaps it’s time for a change of club officials? Two of my clubs have suspended fishing as the river temps have been consistently too high to risk our fish stock. It’s not something that should merit much debate. Some things are just obvious.

The WTT have sensible advice posted on the front page of their site.
 

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