Currently as I sit writing this, pondering the season ahead, I’m experiencing an unusual phenomenon…..rain pounding against the patio doors.
It seems like and probably is weeks since we had any significant rainfall here in the Southwest. Every time the news comes on its stories of impending droughts and hosepipe bans being enforced, worse conditions than the summer of 1976 which I can just remember. All this has had me thinking about what sort of season lies ahead for both the lake and river fly fisher. Last season I think the rivers were already suffering with unusually low water levels, couple this with a dry winter and things don’t look to special for this year.
From what I can see there are no new provisions for water supply for a rising population being put in place which means the only way that the water companies can supply demand is by more abstraction from our rivers. You only have to look around at new housing developments springing up, where does this extra water come from to service the new housing? Money needs to be invested quickly for a sustainable future supply not used for big profits to keep shareholders happy.
So what is the impact has this on our fishing? Well for the stillwaters, low water levels and high temperatures are not a good combination. Oxygen levels fall in the water leading to stressed fish and weed growth that is hard to control, both an extra expense to the commercial fishery manager who wants to stay open through the summer months. Blooms of algae flourish giving poor water quality and making any form of catch and release a no go.
What is even more of a problem is what these conditions can do to our rivers, the wild fish in them and their natural environment.
As the river levels drop problems are caused by more sediment falling to the river bed and covering the clean gravel (Redds) where the wild fish spawn.
With less volume of water in a river any pollution becomes more concentrated and does more damage.
Migratory fish will be inhibited by low water levels and find it much more difficult to reach their spawning grounds.
Insect life can be seriously affected by low water and low oxygen levels and thus reducing the amount of natural food available for the fish to feed on.
These are just a few brief side effects of drought water levels, there are many more complex implications. All grim reading I’m afraid so I’m sat here with fingers crossed for a wet spring to help reduce the severity of the already inevitable impact of low summer water levels. So like me don’t take for granted what comes out of your tap this summer.