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Salmon River Pulaski NY - Habitat - Reading Water

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:49 pm
by Randy Jones
Habitat - Reading Water - Current Breaks
One of the most important aspects of Habitat is to figure out the relationship between all of the different water levels and all of the individual and different current break's. How each current break effect's the water movement and then how the fish relate to each current break. By having a clear and precise understanding of this allows the knowledgeable angler to understand our quarries weakness and then exploit them. Basically, where do they hold at all of the different water levels on this river to help you catch them.

The reason a current break is so important to the fish is that it decreases the amount of energy they need to expend to maintain it's position in the river, creek or stream. If they have to expend to much energy they will die. You can see how these current breaks can be the difference between life or death for a fish and why it is critical for them to use them and for us, the angler, to understand this relationship.

The fish change their lies every time there is a major change in water flow in most holes. Due to the effects that the current break has or does not have on this new flow of water. They will also change their preferences due to time of year, fishing pressure, temperature of water and their biological clock to name just a few. Their change could be as little as moving from the head of the hole (heads of holes are current breaks) to the middle of the hole where the current is not as strong. Or from the tail (higher water flows - the tail is a current break) to the middle of the pool when the water drop's. During real high water sometimes the hole (current break) itself provides little to no protection from the current and you will find the fish moving to the seam of the hole. A seam - where the faster water meets the slower water. Seam's are another current break that the fish love to use. During extreme water flows they could even position themselves directly along the bank of the river.

We have low water current breaks and high water current breaks. Many times a current break is not large enough to effect the high water and the fish's relationship to it becomes useless. Just the opposite can be said for larger current breaks during low water. A prime example of this would be Snaggers hole. During low water this large hole is normally not used by the fish because the water moves so slowly above it that there is no current for the fish to need it. But, during high water when the current is really moving, this spot is used by the fish because it provides shelter (a current break) for the fish to conserve their energy as they move up or down the river. So, we have high water spots (current breaks) that we only fish during high water and low water spot's that we only fish during low water.
So the trick is to know when each spot (or part of the spot) is productive (when the fish will use them) and only fish these area's during the correct water flow. We have different current breaks that the Steelhead use in the Fall (more aerated moving water) compared to the Winter (less aerated moving water). We have different current breaks that the fish use while they are moving up or down (in transition) the river that are different than where they would want to stay for an extended period of time. You have heard me talk about these spots as transitional holding and holding. During their spawn their current breaks change again.

The small island you stand on to fish the hole in low water is now the current break for the fish in much higher water flows. The small boulder on the bottom of the river holds fish behind it in low water flows but becomes almost useless during high water.
Transitional water is where the fish keep swimming up river and do not stop.
Transitional holding water is structure or current breaks that the fish use while in a transitional mode while moving up river to rest for awhile. The length of time any species of fish will hold on these current breaks is determined by the quality of the current break and what the fish had to go through to get to it. (There are other factors also) Fish normally use the depth of water and the current to navigate. So any current break that is on this path is normally used. Whenever we have fish that are in transition then these locations should always be fished.
Holding Water:
They have reached a place in the river where all of their survival instincts are satisfied.
We need the same things they do to survive.
A prime lye consists of:
1. Depth of water for safety from predators.
2. A good enough current break to decrease the amount of energy they need to expand to maintain this position.
3. Enough food.
These "happy fish" will not move from these positions unless one of a number of things happen.

Any type of holding water (that i know of) is caused by current breaks.

As predators, we need to study and decipher current breaks (Habitat). There is a lot of empty water out there. Our predatory instinct's are to find our quarries weaknesses and then exploit them. Having an intimate understanding of Current breaks and when and where to fish them according to the water flow will allow you to achieve this.
Thanks for stopping in,
Randy Jones
P.S. You can find more of the same on my fishing reports page