Jerry Davis: Anglers confident flooded trout streams will weather storm

August 28, 2018

BLACK EARTH — Floods are worse on humans than on trout, so say fish biologists and avid trout anglers.

“The fish will be just fine in most cases,” said Dave Vetrano, retired Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fish manager, who now lives near many trout streams he helped manage and improve in Crawford, La Crosse and Vernon counties.

As long as the cover where the fish hide, particularly under the banks and in LUNKERS that were placed to provide fish cover, is not moved, the fish will still be there.

“Some of the finest trout fishing is soon after a flood and the water quiets down,” Vetrano said. “This is because often the food sources get waxed and the invertebrates are scoured off the rocks and other structures.”

The fish will stay in a small area if they have food, otherwise they’ll move to get food.

“The other thing is there is often a huge increase in recruitment the year after a flood, there is more spawning areas and then huge year classes the next year,” Vetrano said.

Bret Schultz, of Black Earth, said “we’ll lose some fish but it always amazes me that in two weeks I’ll go back to an area that had three trout, and there they are.”

He fishes Black Earth Creek most days during more than nine months of the year.

This flood was one of the worst Schultz has seen and realizes that the amount of water was stream-changing. It is repair of the roads and railroads near the stream that may cause damage, he said.

Even though Schultz had water in his house in Black Earth and was cleaning up the damage, he was also scouting where he’d first try to find fish when he gets back on the stream.

Talk about using trout fishing as a tactic to calm the mind.

“You smile and take the next step,” he said.

It was difficult to guess whether he was talking about life or fishing trout.

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