Farmington River Report 8/1/21: Let’s be careful with those water temps

In a normal summer, August water temps are not an issue on a tailwater like the Farmington. When you get into an extended heat/drought matrix, it’s easy to see how water temperatures can get dangerously high for trout. Less obvious is our current situation. As a result of blowing so much water out of the reservoir — July was the third wettest month on record — the lake is now less temperature stratified. What’s coming out of the bottom isn’t in the upper 50s, but rather in the mid-60s. The issue becomes one of day and night-time air temperatures, and sunshine. Lower and lesser is better. The one current saving grace is that there is still a lot of water moving through the system, and more water means it’s harder to heat up. (Yesterday was 540cfs in the Permanent TMA, and 610cfs in Unionville.)

So, please try to use common sense. Check water temps before fishing, and pick and choose your locations (closer to the dam is better) and times (morning is best, cloudy days, and after the sun goes behind the hills also works) — not to mention your tippet and landing strategies. With that in mind, I was curious about both water temperatures and trout vitality. I fished a mark below the Permanent TMA for an hour yesterday, late afternoon. The water temp was below 70. It was a fast-moving, riffly/pocket water section that was sure to be highly oxygenated. I was fishing a team of three wets with Maxima Ultragreen 4#, which is strong enough to quickly land any Farmington River trout. Finally, I resolved to strip in anything I hooked fast. I stuck four fish and landed two. The two I landed were brought to net in under 15 seconds. They both looked and behaved like very healthy fish, with no signs of stress.

This was a surprise. Given the conditions, I debated the merits of taking a photo, but I can tell you this with certainty: the char was landed in 10 seconds, kept within the net in moving, oxygenated water, then removed for 3 seconds for the photo. All we can do is our best.

2 comments on “Farmington River Report 8/1/21: Let’s be careful with those water temps

  1. James J Berry says:

    Come on Steve, the average temp is 65deg even with the warmer water being dumped in and as the water in the res goes down so will the temp it will flip back to the bottom. I would much rather have you give me your thoughts
    concerning the high water levels and your recommendation for the current flows keeping in mind
    the average in a non drought year is 350. I might check temp on the Beaverkill but not on the
    Farmingon down the Cherry Creek

    • Steve Culton says:

      James, the water temps are what they are. The flow is what it is. The summer sun does what it does. When the afternoon water temperature at Wittemore pool, not too far from the dam, measures 68 degrees (taken by a trusted source this past weekend) I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask folks to be conscientious about trout safety. You can do whatever you like with the information. If you have a specific question, I’m always happy to answer. 🙂

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