Current State of the Steelhead Union

Sediment Plume from the Nemadji
Greetings from the MS nerve center where the alert level just ratcheted up a notch.

The first item of significant note is that we are seeing the first large-scale sediment plumes on the satellite imagery. The brown "S" shaped plume at left is largely from the Nemadji. These plumes are significant because they indicate the thawing of the tribs and increases in flow have begun. This process carries sediment and the stream's unique chemical signature out into the lake which the fish use to navigate back to their home streams.

And while it is going fast, we still have some snow-pack on the ground. A measured snow pack melt is desirable as opposed to a rapid, massive melt which plays havoc with stream chemistry not to mention flows, and can have negative impacts on the fish, particularly young steelhead..

We are once again somewhat blind as to live Lower Shore conditions due to limited gauge data, but the past creel project data is beginning to pay dividends, and based on that here's where we think sit:

Currently we are in the deep breath before the plunge. The data below is from one of the smaller Lower Shore tribs. Based on prior creel data, we know that we have a ways to go before we hit the initiation threshold and the first major upbound migrations of steelhead and kamloops. This threshold is the temperature range which is closely correlated with significant upbound migrations. As you can see from the chart below (stream temps in red), the daily warming cycle isn't quite hitting the mid-30's. We need to be warming close to, or into the lower 40's to hit the magic number.

Don't get discouraged however, there are more and more fish staging off the river mouths due to those increased flows, warming water and sediment plumes.One of the other things we now know from the creel data you've all been so kindly submitting, is that even though we have not reached the initiation threshold, roughly 10% of adult fish caught during any given run return during the period we are in right now. You'll have to work a little harder, and change your tactics to match conditions, but there are fish to be had if you can find open water.

Stay tuned to the blog, we are watching conditions on a daily basis now; we'll keep you posted.
Lower Shore Small Trib Temp, Flow and Precip Data

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