What the Future Holds?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Climatologist or a Meteorologist.

I am curious by nature and tend to observe and absorb things. I do not possess enough information or facts to have a firm position on Climate Change. What I do have is observations spread across decades in my area. And with that, I can safely say that things are abnormal, or at least abnormal to my eyes and brain.

I don’t remember having a “rainy season” like we’ve been experiencing for the past several years. I remember having “heat waves” where we endured multiple weeks of 100+F days. Now those events have shifted to a few days of high temperatures. Winters have changed as well. The weather is often dismissed here because of the old saying, “if you don’t like the weather wait a few minutes and it will change.” I say dismissed because people believe that it’s normal. Yet you can clearly see things have changed.

So why am I bringing this up? I began to think about weather and how it relates to my fishing. I try to read any and all scientific papers I can get my hands on in regards to my beloved Micropterus dolomieu velox…the Neosho-strain Smallmouth Bass.

Most of their habitat is classified as “discontinuous streams” which means that they don’t always flow or have a consistent water level. Droughts and floods are possible and negatively affect these fish. Which brings me to the present year-2021. These fish cannot successfully spawn if the river is running at 18ft. It completely washes the nest and eggs away. Yes, the water level drops and the Velox begin to rebuild and start over only to be faced with another high water event resulting in a second loss. Rinse and repeat for 2021 has been the norm. Which causes concern for me.

The hottest part of our local climate hasn’t come yet. That usually entails high temperatures and low water flows due to lack of rain. This forces the Velox to seek refuge in deeper pools to wait for better conditions. This species relies on flowing water and relatively cool water temperatures (around 31C max) compared to other bass species. As stated before elsewhere, this species of fish does not grow to enormous sizes and as such, most people overlook them in favor of Largemouth Bass. I seriously doubt if anything will be done to help these fish if it becomes necessary for their survival in the face of extinction. That may sound drastic but it is a very real possibility.

As a person who fishes…we take all of these things into consideration when planning our trips. If the water is really low or really hot, we don’t go. We know that these stressors negatively affect the fish and don’t want to add to it. Also, they generally spawn over a 3 week period so we leave them alone as well. There are other fish we can chase.

I’m not suggesting that we are perfect. Even practicing catch and release and using barbless hooks, we know about mortality rates after release and try to mitigate that as much as we can. So I wonder how much mitigation we can do to offset climate change. I’m sure we can do more as a family…

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