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Does high water wash all the trout downstream?
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I often hear after experiencing heavy rain and flooding streams that "all the trout are washed down stream". Well with the heavy rains and flooding over the last couple days in Central PA following the fall stockings I am curious what everyone finds when the waters recede.

My feeling based on experience is that trout like any instinctual creature will do what it can to maintain or improve its position in the food chain. This means it will try to maintain its lies or stay near by once the lie is established. When the water velocity increases they will hug the bottom, get behind rocks, go under banks, etc. Imagine you are standing in a long hallway with many door openings. and a tremendous wind comes through. What would you do? Duck into a doorway or let the wind blow you down the hall?

Anyway, vote on what you find to be the case with this condition.

Posted on: 2013/10/12 9:32
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Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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Law of the wall applies, even in high water. Water velocity at the base of the stream is zero, so all the fish have to do is find a spot near the base of the stream or behind an obstacle (or combine both) or sit beside the bank and they can hold, even in high flows. I think most fish stay put. No doubt some get moved around but when you start to identify the same fish in a spot over a couple of years, that's fairly decent evidence that fish manage to stay put.

Kind of like a hurricane - you can go outside and survive, so long as you stay low. But stand up and make too much surface area exposed, and the wind can overcome the friction your shoes have with the ground and blow you away. The fish can hold in low velocity areas, but I'm sure one of them "stands up" every now and then and then gets blown downstream.

Posted on: 2013/10/12 9:46


Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?
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Fish live in water and know what it does. They find refuge as it rises. If anything, they will navigate upstream in high water because they can.

Posted on: 2013/10/12 9:52
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Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?
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First let me say I opened the poll up to multiple votes. So you can blend your answers to better suit your convictions.

The poll/posts stems from the fall stocking, re; newly stocked fish going from living in a constant velocity environ over nearly a two year period to the equivilant of being placed in front of a firehose in Selma Alabama during the civil rights era.

Stocked trout are lazy, fat and conditioned to be fed in over crowded confined areas. Then put into an environ where the food stops coming first, they follow each other around (tailpipe envy) looking for similar velocity areas they are accustomed to. Soon they realize they need to find food and begin to split up. Once conditioned to the new food source (natural) they begin to assimilate with the wild environs and if inclined become residents suited for long term survival. Admittedly most don't reach this goal. But it is probably that their rehabilitation into the wild was interrupted by some natural or un-natural force. Flooding, predation, harvest, etc.

A stream bred trout has seen high waters on many different levels over its lifetime making their training and ability to react to severe conditions more successful.


Posted on: 2013/10/12 10:22
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Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?
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My vote changes with your modifications. Newly stocked trout may behave differently for certain. The first time.

Posted on: 2013/10/12 10:28
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Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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I have found that it is like one of the analogies mentioned earlier. So long as the river/stream remains within its high water mark, the fish may move some, but the will be quick to recover. If the water volume and velocity is high enough and the river goes past its banks and into the flood plain then many of the trout will be displaced and some are outright killed. That has been my experience with results of Hurricane Lee and the Northeaster that dropped 9" of rain in a day and a half a while back. The time it takes a trout population to recover depends on whether there is a natural or man made barriers that will prevent trout from traveling back upstream and the amount of cover in the way of wood barriers and rocks that a particular river system has. The more cover and large eddy pools a river has determines the number of effective holding areas it will provide to fish looking to ride out the high flows.
During periods of particularly heavy water I have found huge numbers of trout holding behind large brush piles and at the bottom of certain eddies that have deep water and back flows. The characteristic of these areas is what makes them good winter holding areas as well. If the flows are not that high the trout can usually hold close to the banks or the bottom and ride it out. In larger river systems the trout use the current breaks along the shore to hunt for bait fish that are displaced by the heavy flows and put on the feed bag.

Posted on: 2013/10/12 11:25

Edited by LongWader on 2013/10/12 11:41:18
Edited by LongWader on 2013/10/12 11:46:29
Edited by LongWader on 2013/10/12 11:46:52
Edited by LongWader on 2013/10/12 11:47:17
Edited by LongWader on 2013/10/12 11:50:28
Edited by LongWader on 2013/10/12 11:51:01
Edited by LongWader on 2013/10/12 11:51:24


Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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In relation to recently stocked fish yes - I've seen it happen a number of times on the Swift in MA. The day after a big rain event the river would be empty except for the small wild. Brookies.

Frankentrout just don't have the survival instinct of wild or holdovers.


Posted on: 2013/10/12 14:04
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Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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I think it depends on the stream. If you have a certain area of stream that holds trout but has little structure, then most likely trout will start swimming downstream/upstream until they find structure.

Posted on: 2013/10/13 1:14
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Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?
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+1 to Mo's post.

High water events such as this happen all the time and wild fish would for the most part hold in the area.

I would guess that holdover stock fish (those stocked early in the season and survived for months in the stream) would also hold in the area for the most part.

Freshly stocked fish would have more of a tendency "ride the wave" and move downstream, IMO. Tracking studies show newly stocked fish often move quite a bit, mostly downstream, even without a high water event.

The SE streams didn't raise that much, but I peeked at the USGS flow levels for York area streams. Now I know why Mo posted this poll.

I'd say those stocked fish are "hangin' ten!"

Posted on: 2013/10/13 6:49


Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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Wasn't there a study done on this recently in regards to stocked trout? If I recall correctly the fish remained in the general areas that they were stocked. So wild trout would probably remain in their 'home' areas even more so.

Posted on: 2013/10/13 7:55


Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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I feel that low water moves more fish than high water does, for many of the reasons already stated. I have noticed that stocked fish, even those that we float stock, will move more when the creeks get low than a flood event. In low water, they have to find some sort of cover or deep water, or they are going to be heron food. High water gives them another layer of protection.

Posted on: 2013/10/13 7:56


Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?
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Quote:

Mountainbrookie wrote:
Wasn't there a study done on this recently in regards to stocked trout? If I recall correctly the fish remained in the general areas that they were stocked. So wild trout would probably remain in their 'home' areas even more so.


You may be referring to this study about stocked trout movement done by the FBC a few years ago.

Posted on: 2013/10/13 8:07

Edited by afishinado on 2013/10/13 9:16:12


Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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Not necessarily re stocked trout. N Br Muddy was stocked last spring during a bank full event and the water eventually went over its banks at places. Trout residency a week or so later was 90 percent or better as I recall.

Posted on: 2013/10/13 9:30


Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?
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Mike: Defender of Stockies.

Posted on: 2013/10/13 9:45
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Re: Does high water wash all the trout downstream?

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Sorry Mo, I can't agree in any of the polls. I'm of the belief that high water to the fish whether they be Bass, Walleye, Musky, Stocked trout or wild trout means one thing. If you aren't happy for any reason pack your bags and go. I may be wrong but unless extreme conditions the fish don't get washed at all, they migrate. Stocked trout should move from an unnaturally over populated pool. Especially after a low clear water period. High colored water is a great opportunity for fish for obvious reasons. I spend alot of time fishing the downstream water from stocking. I have found on the streams that I fish that stocked trout will scatter and occupy traditional lies for miles leading to what I feel is better fishing. Long and short I am not of the school that fish get washed anywhere. This insinuates a lack of control by the fish. I guess maybe if they were taken from the truck and placed into flood waters in a stretch of fast water bank to bank. Maybe. But only so far.
Of course fish will move in any water conditions if need be. Of note, I caught a large fat lazy brook trout that moved 2 or more miles down a small stocked stream into a large unstocked stream to where I caught it five miles downstream on the first day of trout season. That is at least 7 miles of movement in 4 days without a rain event.

Posted on: 2013/10/13 10:01

Edited by Stenonema on 2013/10/13 10:25:13
Edited by Stenonema on 2013/10/13 10:26:35



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