Low water year to affect local fishing | SierraSun.com

Low water year to affect local fishing

Bruce Ajari

Anglers should be aware by now that the Sierra snow pack is very low this season, at just a slightly above 50 percent of normal in our region. The news is worse as you go south in the Sierras. The long-range forecast holds little hope for any kind of relief this season. It certainly appears that spring is here in full force with the unseasonably warm temperatures that we have experienced lately.

What this means to anglers is pretty obvious: Low water conditions later in the summer. Most experts feel that in low snow pack years, fishing tends to be good during the early season and much tougher during the low water period. This is all due to the amount of water in the streams.

The Truckee River system is a bit different in that much of the flows are regulated with releases out of a number of water storage reservoirs. Fishing in the Truckee River during a low snow pack year is typically not too bad since there will relatively constant flows once that water from Lake Tahoe is needed. Anglers know that some part of the river will have good flows in it during low water years as a result of the required water releases.

In low water years anglers can expect that peak run-off will be over very early in the season and that fishing should be very good during this period. Hatches of insects also tend to be accelerated as the water warms up. Fly fishermen can anticipate the hatch cycle of insects to be anywhere from one to several weeks in advance of the usual appearance.

The other wrinkle in the fishing equation is the impact of the new zero-kill, artificial-only winter regulations from Trout Creek to the Nevada state line. The warmer weather and the low snowpack have allowed anglers access to the river earlier than ever this season.

Early reports from anglers indicate that fishing has been very good. Conditions are much better than those experienced during the traditional opening day of the trout season during the last weekend in April. It is usually warmer during that period and the run-off has much more of an impact during that time. During future low water years similar angling can be expected during the winter months.

Anglers who fish reservoirs should be prepared during dry years for more rapid draw downs in their normal fishing spots. This sometimes has a tendency to make things easier for many anglers because it tends to concentrate the remaining fish into a much smaller area which makes it easier for anglers to find them.

If the water gets too low there is a danger of rapid warming and this can be extremely detrimental to the fish populations. When the water gets to warm it does not hold oxygen and the result can be a massive fish die-off.

Weather is cyclical as are most things in nature. Anglers must be in tune to the various changes that nature sends our way in order to be successful. The knowledge of alterations to this cycle, such as that of flows, is also critical to an angler’s overall success or failure.

Knowing some of the potential impacts can give the angler a great advantage in planning his or her fishing trips.

Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.