Staying Out of Hot Water: Trout and Soaring Stream Temperatures

With many of this year's Independence Day celebrations set to be hot and steamy ones, it seems like a good time to send along a reminder about fishing during times of high stream temperatures. If you're taking advantage of the holiday to chase trout, it is important to know when and where it is safe to fish during the hot summer months and the warmer water that comes along with them.

Small brook trout
Brook trout like this one are less heat tolerant than browns and rainbows.

Each species of trout has specific tolerances when it comes to stream temperatures. Regardless, though some species tolerate warmer temperatures better, all trout fall into the same general range. A good rule of thumb is to avoid pursuing trout in streams where the water temperature has increased to 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above. For optimal fish safety, avoid water that's reached 68 degrees or higher.

In a short article we published last year, entitled Trout and Water Temperature: How Hot is Too Hot? we provided information about why increased water temperatures negatively impact trout, details on tolerance ranges for specific species as well as other interesting and relevant details. Be sure to check out that article to learn more about trout and the impact of warming stream water.

Although it might go without saying, be sure to carry a stream thermometer when you head out. You can pony up for one of the fancy infrared ones that provide an instant reading or stick with the old fashioned versions that can be found for as little as five dollars. Don't rely on USGS stream gauges, fishing reports from fly shops or the like, as stream conditions can vary widely within a stream and can also change quickly. If you think water temperature is a concern on any given day that you're headed to the water, be prepared.