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Chattahoochee Delayed Harvest Section Water Temperature Notes

Posted 06-25-08 at 03:37 PM by ASago
Updated 06-27-08 at 11:42 PM by ASago
As part of the latest vBulletin upgrade, we decided to add user blogs. Ultimately we will be including blogs in the front page of the site and plan to potentially showcase them more but for now I thought I would be the first to add a blog here. Not having even blogged before, this is new to me - and I think I am supposed to talk about something personal, useful, etc... so... I'll
paste in some notes I made regarding water temps in the Chattahooche DH...

Chattahoochee Delayed Harvest Section Water Temperature Notes

Towards the end, and after of the delayed harvest season is over, the water will begin to warm. Warm water events during heavy rains will approach and sometimes surpass the upper range in which a trout can survive. Trout are not tolerant of water temperatures above the lower to mid 70’s. This is due to the fact that trout require dissolved oxygen (dO2) to breathe. On average trout require approximately 3ppm of dO2 to survive and at approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit (or 23.9 degrees Celsius) 3ppm is the maximum dO2 water can hold without natural or artificial oxygenation.

During these later periods in the season and as the season comes to a close trout will go into “survival” mode. They will usually move into to the swift water where food is more abundant in the mornings and evenings while the water temperature is tolerable and the extra dO2 allows them to expend their energy and in the afternoon disappear into the deeper pools, often not feeding at all.

If the water temperature rises too high and the dO2 drops near or below 3ppm you may see the fish coming to the surface and literally “gasping” for air, often times coming up then floating briefly on their side – and doing this over and over again until finally suffocating.

These warm water events are primarily caused by heated storm water runoff, however during the summer drought of 2006 water temperatures got as high as 82 degrees Fahrenheit downstream of Morgan Falls. The cause for this was a combination of bad drought conditions and the lack of significant water releases from Buford Dam during the summer.

Amazingly, it has been proven through DNR shocking surveys that some of the trout are actually surviving these extreme warm water events throughout the summer from season to season. In October of 2006 an 8-9 pound brown trout was collected during a shocking survey just below Morgan Falls Dam. It is likely that this trout survived a few summers by finding deeper holes with swift water. It is also extremely likely he has some friends out there as well.

If the water temps are too high for trout you might not want to cancel your trip just yet. There are a few other warm water species in this stretch of water and beyond including shoal bass, largemouth bass, and stripers (who’s numbers are increasing). More on this later in the “Other Species” section of this book.

If you are planning a trip later in the season for trout (after March) you just might want to check the water temperatures before you head out. Luckily USGS has data on the web to help us out here as well.

Current Water Temperature (last 7 days to current)

As mentioned above, you will want to see these temperatures below 20 degrees Celsius, and ideally around 11 degrees Celsius.

Before I move on to another topic I want to at least mention a new feature that the National Weather Service has recently launched. Their “RiverForecastCenter” contains river flow and stage data as well as precipitation and some other very nice metrics. It is worth taking a look.

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