The idea behind Delayed Harvest is that the catch-and-release and artificial lures regs during cooler months allow for a sustainable fishery, while the harvest rules allow fishermen to get the trout before they succumb to warm water of summer. It’s a good program and it works pretty well, but things may not be looking so great on some DH waters this year.
I just got a report from Bob Jenkins, a retired Roanoke College fisheries science guru and avid fly angler. He spends a lot of time on the Roanoke River DH sections and knows them well. His report is not encouraging for those who hope to find a river full of hungry, feisty trout on June 1. Here’s part of it:
“Rising was seen in only one pool, likely by minnows and/or sunfishes. Water temperature at 1830 hr was 79°F, this up from 69.5°F of eight evenings ago; afternoon air temperature reached into the high 80s. The intervening days were warm to hot, nights slightly cool to warm.
Owing to very warm water I fished “experimentally” during 1830–2000 hr in the Lower Bend and part of a run about 400 m below, and to get a good “sample” I keenly focused on drifting an AnatoMay nymph. The one sure take was by a 15.5” Rainbow Trout, which fought averagely for its size while played gently on 6x tippet and the just-learned J-knot.
A nature-watching couple told me of having just seen numerous dead trout including two large Browns lying on the bottom of a slow and shallow creeklet just above its mouth at the Colorado St. bridge, immediately above the DHS.
Sure, harvest the DHS’s trout starts this Friday (1 Jun) upon annulment of the no-bait, no-kill regulations (until 1 Oct). Woeful success seems awaiting the invading hoard.”
This year is lining up similarly to a spring several years back that was also really warm. I wandered down to the Salem DH section and it was pretty ugly. I actually saw trout on the surface trying to gulp in oxygen.
Some time back a reader contacted me with a suggestion that the DGIF move the DH opener to the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. His thinking was less about pre-opener heat mortality and more about how it would be better for kids than the June 1 opener, which more often than not falls during the week.
I think it is a great idea and I can’t find any fault with it. I even mentioned it to the DGIF powers that be. Alas, the suggestion did not make it into the current round of fisheries regulations proposals.
Anyway, has anyone else been fishing DH waters — in the Roanoke River or elsewhere — this week? Or any other stocked water, for that matter? What are you seeing?
Also, who plans to still give the DH opener a try tomorrow or over the weekend?