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…

Epic Day Out 11JULY2021…

When I got home from work Friday, I was chatting with the wife trying to figure out what we were going to do this weekend. She wanted to go fishing on Saturday and I reminded her that it was going to be 95F and sunny. I mentioned that Sunday was supposed to be cooler with a high of 82F. We both decided to go fishing on Sunday! What we didn’t count on was a thunderstorm Saturday night. As we went to bed, I was checking the stream gauges and noticed the river was rising. Outside, thunder was booming and lightning was flashing. Rain was coming down in sheets. But it was moving fast so we called it a night. I decided to check in the morning to see if we could actually fish this river.

Upon hearing my alarm at 0430 I immediately grabbed my phone and checked the stream gauges. The water had risen but was dropping fast. Sunday was a GO! After a 2 hour drive we were standing on the riverbank by 0720. Temperature was at 69F with a slight fog. We were the only ones there.

I’m going to diverge a bit here and try to explain this river. The last time we were here we noticed that everything was different. Looking back over my notes I noticed that on May 28th, 2021 the water level in this river was almost 18ft high. That amount of water and flow drastically changed the riverbed. I mentioned that in a previous post. So I had the wife take a photo to give you an idea of what occurred.

I’m 5ft 9in and my rod is 5ft long…so lets call it 11 feet. The water level was at 7.3 feet when this picture was taken. No wonder everything changed.

We stepped into the river and began casting and trying to locate some fish to develop a pattern. It didn’t take long and we had 5 fish to hand. They were in their summer pattern so would be hanging out in pocket water amongst current. If there are stretches of slow water you might catch some little ones, but generally, only perch and gar are hanging out there so we skip those sections.

Slow water…
Any obstruction or seam in the river is a top spot for us to cast to.
All of the fish we caught today were healthy and feisty.
This one put up a great fight!
Last Spring this gravel bar had 3 branches flowing through it.
This Cottonwood didn’t stand a chance.
Best fishing partner EVER!
Beautiful coloration.
We covered 3 miles of new water on this river.
82F with a breeze and good cloud cover. Perfect day to be on the river.

We fished for 5 hours and covered 3 miles of new water. Last Spring we did a reconnaissance trip to this area and realized we would be swimming a lot to cross several sections. This time, we were able to wade across everything so it was a lot more enjoyable.

All told we caught 101 Neosho-strain smallmouth bass on this trip which is a new record for us (We are 100% Catch and Release and use barbless hooks) I would estimate that about 40% were dinks, 40% were decent and the remaining 20% were above average. We were very happy and had a great time. The only downside was that we noticed the Owner Cultiva JH-85 and JH-86 2.2 and 2.0 gram jig heads didn’t seem to be as sharp as we prefer and we ended up losing quite a few fish. Definitely considering switching to the Gamakatsu Round 211 3/32oz jig heads.

She was trying to get a picture of a big Velox but he had other ideas and escaped. The look says it all!

Thanks for reading!

Ed Banks Access Area on the Cossatot River…

With this trip being our first to this river it was tough to fish as much as we wanted to. I’m sure that sounds odd but we wanted to explore as much as we could and considered this trip more of a reconnaissance run than anything. All told, we only covered about 6-7 miles of river. We wanted to get a feel for the place, to see what kind and size of fish we might encounter and to scout out access and camping spots.

The forest roads to the Cossatot River weren’t too bad.

We drove through sections of clear-cut areas and since this is logging country it was to be expected. It was nice to see large swaths had been replanted and were doing well.

Upstream from the Ed Banks Access was a “snot rock boulder fest” and wasn’t a lot of fun. I’m not a fan of snakes and we had seen our fair share. Thankfully none of the ones we encountered were venomous. But where I was, I was on constant alert.

She wanted no part of the upstream side and opted to head downstream. Wiser choice I will admit. After about an hour I joined her on that side and it is much easier. We caught a ton of perch and little Velox. All told we caught 27 fish with one being a nicer smallmouth bass.


After several hours of fishing some local kids showed up in trucks and on ATV’s. There must’ve been 20 of them and they were rowdy. We decided to move on to another access point we had seen on the map.

Fish Farts?

No, this is not a dissertation about piscatorial bowel movements. Nor am I trying to be crude. It’s just an observation.

Many times when I’m fishing one of our local streams/rivers, I’ll be wading along and from behind me I hear something akin to flatulence. ( No, its not coming from me!) It’s not a “barn burner” or anything like that. It’s much more subtle.

Just a little “brrrrrrtt”. I am really curious by nature and often times I will sit on the riverbank and just observe things for awhile. So as I was sitting there one day, I happened to catch a smallmouth fingerling rocket out of the water while making that sound. Aha! That’s what it is…the sound of the tail smacking the water in extremely rapid succession as it breaches the surface while chasing some insect. If you’ve ever caught a fingerling you’ll know exactly how “wiggly” they really are.

Several times the wife and I have quietly approached a shallow bend in the river only to be greeted by a cacophany of “fish farts.” It’s really quite funny but it is also encouraging. We’re staring at the future!

It does our hearts good to know that our rivers and streams are healthy and that the native smallmouth bass ( the Velox ) are doing well and reproducing in meaningful numbers. With concerns of pollution, genetic inbreeding from introduced species etc etc. it gives us hope. And in this day and age, with everything going on…we need that.

Stay safe out there.