Cold, Clean, Fishable Waters

It’s all about the water.

Cold, clean fishable water provides quality fishing but it goes well beyond recreation. It also provides for healthy communities and strong economies. Protecting, reconnecting, restoring and sustaining the coldwater fisheries that flow through our communities and lives leads to healthy communities and strong economies. Trout exist only in cold, clean fishable water. They are a proverbial “canary in the coal mine”, indicating how well our rivers and streams are being maintained.

Download a handout with this information here.

Cold Water

Trout exist only in cool, clear water. Sustained warm temperatures are lethal. Temperature spikes can stress and weaken, even kill fish. Factors that affect stream temperatures include:

  • Stormwater runoff from parking lots, rooftops, streets and driveways that have been heated by the sun.
  • Sedimentation from erosion that holds in heat.
  • Thermal discharges from wastewater and commercial facilities that can raise a stream’s temperature.
  • Reservoirs that create tailwater fisheries which are dependent upon consistent, minimum cold water discharges.
  • Small ponds on trout streams built without bottom-fed cold water discharges.
  • Climate change during periods of drought or unusually warm temperatures.

Clean Water

Natural water quality can be impaired by chemicals from industrial and residential runoff and discharges, helped by stream buffer areas and needs to be actively protected.

Water quality factors:
  • Stormwater management
  • Dissolved oxygen content
  • Acid rain deposition
  • Wastewater and commercial discharge permits
Stream buffers provide:
  • Filtering of stormwater runoff
  • The cooling effect through the shade
  • Reduction in surface erosion
  • Streambank stabilization
  • Permitting
  • Monitoring
  • Emergency response
  • Enforcement

Fishable Water

Although the "fishable" sounds like it only describes waters clean enough to support fish to catch, it refers more broadly to water quality that is good enough for a healthy balanced population of aquatic life. Fishable water supports agriculture, industry, clean drinking water and recreation. It is an essential part of a strong economy's foundation. Fishable water is dependent on habitat conservation, water quantity and fishery management. Factors that affect fishable water:

Habitat conservation
  • Public land acquisition
  • Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
  • Fish passage
  • Riparian rights
  • Off-Road Vehicles (ORV)
Water quantity
  • Water conservation measures
  • Instream flows
  • Interbasin transfers
  • Water withdrawal permits
Fishery management
  • Water management plans
  • Wildlife management plans
  • Land use management plans
  • Public land safeguards
  • Fishing regulations
  • Conservation funding
  • Safety
  • Economic impact

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