Trout Water: How Warm Is Too Warm?

As the summer heat rages on and dailly reports of stress on rivers and streams seem to increase, it’s a good time to remind ourselves about what responsible fishing is during periods of high water temperature. Here are a couple of guidelines. Always play and land fish as quickly as you can, but especially in warmer water, when additional stress may prevent a released fish from surviving. Most trout prefer water that is 50-68 degrees Fahrenheit, and brook trout and cutthroats prefer even colder water. If you know that the water where you are trout fishing is 70 degrees, pay particular attention to releasing fish quickly, and if the water is 75 degrees or higher, simply don’t fish.

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  • Amen! Here in the Ozarks, we are having a milder than normal summer…by about 10 degrees. This makes a difference in our tailwaters…they’re cooler. But we are also getting a lot of rain. And that puts more warm runoff in our spring-fed trout waters, which warms them up.
    I was fishing the Spring River in AR this week, and water temps ranged from 61.9 to 69.1 degrees within 3 miles of the 58 degree 9.5 million gallon per hour spring. And the trout just weren’t active. I caught as many smallmouth bass and sunfish in the “trout water” as I did trout.