Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spring Floods Good For Shad Reproduction, Bad For Fishing and Guiding

We've had quite a bit of rain in the Old Dominion these past few days. I'm normally a fan of big thunderstorms just not during the shad run. The Potomac is rising and will crest at over seven feet just above where we fish for shad. This is good for the shad. It allows them to do their thing unmolested by anglers. The murky water makes it harder for the birds to pick them off-though the osprey and bald eagle are feeding their nestlings with the fish so its bad for them. 

The Potomac has a massive drainage system. If it rains in any of four states it will end up in the river. What ever is on the ground ends up down here too. This time of year there is a lot of plant based flotsam from all of the flowers. There will be all sorts of junk floating down and swirling in the eddys where we target these anadramous fish. Every cast will get snarlerd in small twigs and dropped floral parts. Its a nightmare.

Here is a graph of the rising water. We are looking at about 3-4 more days of the river draining. One benefit of spring time is all the plants need to soak up water to fill their leaves and flowers with water. That is turgor pressure if you want to be specific. What ever the plants aren't soaking up is runoff. That includes all the rain that falls on building surfaces and paved surfaces. So there is A LOT of runoff. Thus the river is rising. It has to go somewhere. All of the windblown pollen is also in the river making slow spots covered with a thick glaze of yellow.

Potomac River near Washington DC (Little Falls)

All of this runoff will be loaded with soil from farms and construction sites and other miscellaneous eroded locations. My clients from California recently told me that all of these construction sites with giant dirt piles would be illegal back home as California has rules about soil runoff. Too bad we don't have rules like that  here. Thus the river looks like  chocolate milk. If you want to know how much sediment is in the water please refer to the below graph:
Graph of

 As you can see the amount of sediment in the river has had a detrimental effect on the water's clarity. Just
imagine how clear this river used to be before all of us messed it up.

This is the Shad Cam. This water was clear about two days ago. Now its nasty. 

Combine high water, muddy water, flotsam, and increased water speed you get an unfishable river. When its unfishable we have to head to other waters and or just wait it out. This time of year all of my works is based around the shad and thus I'm out of work this week. Hoping the water goes down after this weekend (Project Healilng Waters 2-Fly Tournament) we should be back on the shores tossing sink tips to the fish. 

In the meantime you should be cranking out flies to fill your boxes.

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