Monday, March 31, 2014

Montana Fly Fishing: Leave Spring Spawners Be

This morning it looks and feels a lot more winter-like than spring; a little too much winter-like for me to even think of actually going fishing but...Early spring is spawning time for rainbows, cutts and grayling. With weatherman promising spring starts next week, I, along with a bunch of you, will seriously consider kick starting the new season.

Spawning fish, as we all know, are easy pickings. Before run-off begins streams and creeks are running low and clear. Since spawning always takes place in shallow, well-aerated riffles the hardest part is usually the hike from the truck. Just about any fly, bait or lure drifted anywhere near an active spawning bed is likely to draw a strike. Good news for the lucky angler, not so hot for the already stressed and physically drained spawners.

While I believe strongly in leaving fish to spawn in peace (like would you enjoy being hooked in the jaw while, you know, spawning, I don't think so) it is not illegal. So, at the very least take care and DO NOT under any circumstance walk through a redd; whether or not you actually see fish in or around it, there are eggs in the gravel and once kicked loose, fish eggs do not do well. And please Do Not cast to actively spawning fish; ripe females almost always abort eggs during the ensuing fight and, from what I've seen, always abort what's left during the netting, handling, unhooking process.

In other words if you gotta fish in early spring, and I agree is almost un-American not to, why not check-out your favorite brown trout holes or better still check out one the many lakes and reservoirs where the large majority are hatchery plants and most of the spawning activity goes for naught anyway.

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