Conditions as of 4.05.2018
The time of year has arrived when Minnesota Steelheader Staff begin watching North Shore conditions very closely. Given the recent cold snap and snow we can tell you one thing for sure; Mother Nature is crabby…
Things were looking promising back on the 23rd of March. We were seeing definite brown-up in the St. Louis estuary, and parts of the Shore near the lake along with seeing the first mud blooms. This told us that despite all the snow and ice, the thaw was on and runoff was carrying sediment out into the lake.
Fast forward to April 1st, by which time Mother Nature had played a spectacular April Fool’s joke on steelheaders. Our imagery turned bright white in less than 24 hours:
Even the false-color images don’t show much progress in the way of ground-cover temperature differences:
That’s a far cry from March 15th of last year when brown-up and thaw was well underway up and down the Shore:
When checking the stream packages, there was a ray of hope. We’re seeing daily temp spikes in stream temps on a few Lower Shore streams. That is certainly important, but the only available data is coming from tiny streams which tend to warm far more quickly than the larger Lower Shore streams:
Our Mid Shore index stream is much larger and while you can see it has a pulse, it’s barely discernible and stream temps are hovering around freezing. Still also seeing quite a bit of ice-dam signature in the flows:
Our one Upper Shore temp index stream is always a bit of an anomaly, but there again it is small and tends to warm far more quickly than surrounding streams. Definitely a pulse there but a long way to go yet:
What we are looking for now are stream temp and flow signatures that look like this, rising with a strong heartbeat signature:
When we see this, we know that melting is accelerating. As more of the streambed is exposed to sunlight, it leads to rapidly warming stream temps and eventually, ice-free streams. At that point major migration of steelhead is not too far behind; we’re just not there yet. Now is a great time to go through the gear, re-stock the boxes, patch those waders and dream of singing drags. Oh, and if anyone can put in a good word with Mother Nature, we would sure appreciate it!