Missouri Trout Hunter

Blog for sharing thoughts, beliefs and opinions on issues affecting the world of trout fishing in the Ozarks.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Autumn Heatwave Throws a Wrench in the Works!!

Man, oh man! Things were just beginning to look really good. The last 10 days of September brought us nice cool air temperatures and winds from the North. The river water temperatures across the state started cooling down, and people were reminded that "yes, Virginia, there are brown trout in Missouri waters". And then the evil weather man reared his ugly head.

In the heat of the summer, many of our trout streams suffered through water temperatures hovering around 80 degrees. Both rainbows and browns get lethargic and inactive in warm water, but they deal with it differently. At 69 degrees or so, browns start shutting down, and they crash hard. One day you're catching them, then suddenly they've just disappeared, not to reappear until the water cools back into the mid-60's. Rainbows also get down in the mouth, but they'll at least continue feeding. Even so, the dog days of summer are generally the slowest times on the river. But then comes fall!

A few nice cool days quickly drops the water temperatures in the 60's again, and the trout come alive. We start seeing some surface feeding on terrestrials, a few fish begin chasing down streamers again, and we begin seeing some fish move into riffles, a sure sign they're getting more competitive with each other. And then the roof caves in.

September 30 got pretty warm, and the weather man warned of some real heat coming. October 1-4 were all topping out in the 90's, and the water temperature jumped as well. The fish reacted poorly to this, the sissies. I can always tell when the fishing hasn't been so great in a certain body of water, because no one sends in a report. When the fishing improves, the reports start coming back in. This makes perfect sense. After all, who wants to take the time to write a fishing report that says "didn't catch a darn thing, but I got a doozy of a sunburn on the back of neck!" So far, we haven't received a single fishing report from our little hot patch. The fishing areas closest to the springs wasn't affected nearly as much as the rivers downstream, so I imagine we'll hear about some decent action at the parks. The other areas, though, were downright infuriating.

On the Meramec River, I am perhaps too proud of my fairly consistent success. I'm on the river at least 5 times per month every month and often 10 or more days, depending on my taxidermy work load and number of booked guide clients. During the year between 10/1/05 and 9/30/06, I was personally skunked exactly once. I had a couple of clients that got skunked or nearly skunked during that year (Jerry and Patrick, I still owe you guys a free fishing trip. Please call!). This last little heat wave truly humbled me, though. For the first time, I was skunked twice in a row (gasp!). I took 2 clients out on 10/1 (skunked), and I took an individual client out on 10/3 (skunked again). We saw some floating fishermen both days and asked how they were doing. "Well, we're actually spending most of our time just floating", they'd say. Yep, it's been tough when a fellow fisherman can't even work up the gumption to lie to you about his catch rate. You might be surprised that a fishing guide would admit his failings, like this. Well, I know for a fact that you struggled last week, too. I just want you know that I share your pain.

Today is the first of a series of cool days, and I've got more guide trips planned for next week. Don't worry, fellow trout hunters and future clients. Things will get better. And if they don't? Well, I guess there's always smallmouth bass.

Good luck out there.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Patrick said...

Walt:

Working on trying to get back to MO and include a day of fishing. Unfortunately, it will not be before deer season (as I know you will need to focus on your taxidermy work then). However, I know I will be out for some time in December which may work out for both of us.

Although we had a tough day during the summer, I still enjoyed the day and learned quite a bit.

Talk to you soon,

Patrick

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking forward to it!

Walt

12:21 PM  

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