August 12, 2016

IFW News -- Hot Weather, Low Water Levels Can Impact Trout and Landlocked Salmon

AUGUSTA, Maine -- With much of Maine suffering from below average rainfall and varying degrees of drought-like conditions, anglers are reminded to be prudent when fishing for coldwater fish species such as trout and landlocked salmon. “Maine is known for our coldwater species like brook trout and landlocked salmon,” said IFW’s director of Fisheries Francis Brautigam, “Yet during a summer like this, our waters can get unusually warm and it can impact fish such as trout and salmon.”

In order to beat the heat in streams and rivers, brook trout seek deeper pools that are cooler and better oxygenated. Small, colder tributaries are also locations where these fish will seek thermal refuge. In ponds, they will seek spring holes. When fish are in these situations, they become more susceptible to predators.

Trout and salmon that reside in our deeper, colder lakes are also impacted by this summer’s weather. The lack of rain has surface water temperatures warmer than usual, with some lake surfaces topping the 80 degree mark. Trout and salmon will stay below the thermocline, where temperatures can be in the 45-55 degree range.

“A fish that is caught below 40 feet of water may experience a temperature difference of close to 35 degrees,” said Brautigam, “This type of temperature swing can put added stress on a fish.”

In extreme cases in some shallower and smaller ponds, dry summers such as this can result in fish kills, since water loses oxygen as it becomes warmer.

Anglers can help out Maine’s trout and landlocked salmon by following a few simple steps:

• After hooking a fish, catch and release the fish quickly if you are not planning to keep it.

• Fish early and later in the day when water temperatures are cooler

• Consider using barbless hooks as it allows you to release a fish quicker.

• Avoid keeping the fish out of the water for pictures, or keeping them in warm surface water.

Anglers are also reminded that beginning August 16, fishing in rivers, streams and brooks is restricted the use of artificial lures and flies only, and the daily bag limit on trout and salmon species is 1 fish. -30-