Survivor (and then some)

On Tuesday the DEEP collected broodstock for the next generation of Survivor Strain brown trout. The MDC drew down the reservoir to about 70cfs and the collection crews had at it. Normally, I like to give warning of the event (you can still fish, but you need to stay clear of the collection crews) but I missed that boat. However, I’m happy to report that well over 100 trout were collected — and after the challenging summer conditions these fish made it through, you can rest assured that the survival aspect of their genetic material is exceptional.

With cooler days and nights upon us, re-stocking the river will begin soon. Then we can pretend that this summer never happened.

Task completed. Back up she goes! It may take a day or so for the fish to regain their bearings.

Why is the Farmington River so warm? Or: when tailwaters don’t work

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Farmington River water temps. The basic outline is, “I thought the Farmington is a tailwater. Why is the river so warm?” The answer is pretty simple.

In case you don’t know, a tailwater is a river with a dam release. The flow of the Farmington River West Branch is controlled by water that comes out of gates from the base of a reservoir dam (Colebrook Reservoir and Hogback Dam). If you’ve ever gone swimming in a pond or lake, you know that the water is warmer near the surface and colder near the bottom. This is called thermal stratification. In a larger reservoir, you have three different thermal layers: the epilimnion (the warmer upper layer; the metalimnion (or thermocline, the middle layer); and the hypolimnion, the coldest bottom layer. But I said this was simple, and there I go throwing all kinds of hifalutin hydro-science terms at you.

Ideally, there’s a happy medium of bottom release flows on a tailwater: cold water is never released in amounts that cannot be quickly replenished. But there are two situations that screw everything up.

The first is severe drought. Water that flows into the Colebrook Reservoir is reduced to a warm trickle. The volume of the reservoir shrinks from evaporation. The temperature of the water rises, especially if it’s hot, which decreases thermal stratification. As a result, what comes out of the bottom of the dam is warmer than ideal. (By agreement with the CT DEEP, the MDC must maintain a minimum release of 50cfs.) Because the flow is so low, water downstream warms quickly, trout get stressed, and it’s a bad scene all around. (This was the case in 2016. It was so bad that the DEEP took the unprecedented step of declaring thermal refuges on the Farmington.)

But that’s not what happened this year. This year, we had too much water. All that rainfall in July meant that the MDC needed to bleed water, and lots of it — so much, in fact, that it wiped out any meaningful thermal stratification in the reservoir. They’re still running such a high volume of water that there’s no chance for the stratification to re-establish — at least not in the heat of August. So that’s why at noon today the water was coming out of the dam at a very trout-unfriendly 69 degrees.

Eventually, it will get better. But right now, the best thing you can do for Farmington River trout is play the waiting game.

Taken this winter when the water was very, very, cold. Hang in there, buddy!

CT DEEP Trout and Salmon Forums this October

“DEEP Wants Your Opinions on Trout and Salmon Fishing in Connecticut.
Public Discussions Scheduled Statewide in October
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Fisheries Division is pleased to invite all interested people to attend one of the public discussions focused on the State’s recreational trout and salmon fisheries. The purpose of the meeting is to obtain ideas and concerns specific to recreational fishing for trout and salmon via face-to-face conversation.
“Informed conversations between our passionate and loyal anglers and the Fisheries Division are essential to ensuring we are managing these fisheries in the most relevant and meaningful manner, consistent with the preferences and desires of the people we serve,” said Peter Aarrestad, Director of DEEP’s Fisheries Division.
Each meeting will begin with a brief presentation about the Fisheries Division’s management of trout and salmon to date and then expand to discussion on four key focal points related to trout and salmon fishing:
• What makes a good fishing trip?
• What is the Fisheries Division doing well?
• Where can the Fisheries Division improve?
• What actions could be taken to increase the number people fishing?
All people are encouraged to provide their perspectives. At the conclusion of all of the meetings, comments will be compiled and considered to help inform the Fisheries Division’s development of a statewide trout and salmon action plan.
To help determine the level of attendance and ensure sufficient accommodations for all, we are asking likely attendees to RSVP in advance by selecting the “tickets” button for the appropriate date and location.
RSVP can also be made by calling the Fisheries Division at 860-424-3474 or by email to mike.beauchene@ct.gov
Doors will open 30 minute prior to the start of each meeting.”
You can find the dates and locations here.

Two pieces in the July/August 2016 American Angler

Submitted for your reading pleasure: “The Little Things V2.0” and “I’m Not Dead Yet — The last hurrah for wild Connecticut River strain Atlantic Salmon” in the current issue of American Angler.

“The Little things V2.0” serves as a springboard for a new presentation coming this fall (I will kick it off in Coventry, RI at the TU225 meeting in late September.

Many thanks to the Connecticut DEEP for sharing their time and knowledge for the salmon article, and a shout out to currentseams.com follower RM Lytle for the same (and a very spiffy photo of his prized catch).

The little things is like compounding interest. It all adds up. Then one day you’re rich.

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~

Look for it at your favorite fly shop or newsstand.

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Here we go again with proposed hatchery cuts — and here’s how you can help.

Once again, the Governor of the jolly old yo-ho-ho State of Connecticut has decided that a good way to save money would be to close our hatcheries. Never mind all that stuff about Connecticut and the Farmington River being a destination for anglers all over the northeast, or those bothersome guides and small businesses that would go under without a viable fishery, and never mind all the pesky retail sales and business entity taxes — who has time to count all that up, anyway?.

(The author of this post now gives out a long sigh, and searches for a word that best describes Governor Malloy’s thinking. Ah. “Obtuse.” Yes, that’s it.)

So, here’s how you can help. Sign this petition.

Thanks.

Fred here is in favor of keeping our hatcheries. But Fred can’t sign the petition. Help a brother out, will you?

October Brown 2014

 

A kilo of salmon, please

Last week, I was guiding two clients on the upper TMA of the Farmington River when the bucket brigade swooped in. Not meat farmers — at least not in the harvesting sense — but rather, sowers. Their crop: Atlantic salmon fry. Love them (food for big browns) or hate them (annoying beasts that nip at your fly ad nauseum), Atlantic Salmon have been a part of the Farmington River watershed for years.

 Never-ending ringed walls and two alien beings peering in from above. Soon you’ll be free! Each bucket holds one kilo of fry.

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A closer look at the biomass. Will they lead prosperous lives and make it out to the sound? Or will they become so many croquettes for Mr. Lunker Brown?

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