An interview with partner guide Jan Nemec:
Thanks Jan for joining us today. The river seems to be having a banner year in terms of difficult conditions. That said, no more 100 degree days are forecasted this year. Are we in the clear?
In extreme conditions like what we have now, air temperature is only one factor. Escaping the extreme high temps of summer is near. Yet with the flows as low as they are, particularly on the Nevada side, the fish are stacked on top of each other and highly stressed currently.
Is it ethical to fish for concentrated schools of trout when Truckee flows are extremely low (below 70 cfs)?
I believe the answer is no. Let me explain.
The term ‘fish in a barrel’ is never used to describe an honorable attempt at fishing. What we are currently left with is trout and bait fish populations that flourished when flows had been high. Now, low flows have that same large population condensed into very few livable areas. Much of the food has also dried out, stranded in stagnant pools and left along the receding shoreline.
Picture this: a 10 square mile city gets condensed into a few city blocks. With that kind of concentration, crime is up, people are combative, and stress levels soar. For the fish, this is their reality on the Nevada side currently.
Why not thin the population and take some fish to insure some don’t starve to death? Until we see a drop in baitfish, the best approach is to leave the trout alone. If the bait-fish disappear too, then taking fish may be a better option. Bait fish populations remain strong both west and eat of Reno. These will likely dwindle as they get eaten and poor water quality elements start to play their part. In fact, the water quality right now is of major concern.
Why does dirty water come with low water conditions?
Simply put: the normal flows help flush the water system. When flows are down, small sources of pollution become major factors. Our recycled waste water isn’t clean like snow melt or spring water. Many parasites and bacteria are also always present in the Truckee becoming more concentrated just as the trout are. When flows are reduced those parasites and diseases find hosts much easier. As of now only a few fish show signs of infection, this could increase greatly if stress is put onto the fish. Its also good to remember that every time a fish is handled it also wipes away its natural antibacterial slime coating. In normal conditions, that’s not helpful. In these conditions, that’s devastating.
At what flow should fisherman consider stressful for trout on the Truckee River?
Around 100 cfs and below is the short answer. Until water temps become closer to the trout’s preferred water temperature of 49-53 degrees they aren’t able to fight attacking infections and parasites. In the mean time, try the Cali side in places where flows are steadily over 100 cfs.
Thanks Jan for your time and for helping us protect the resource we have.