Drought spawns lots of trout | VailDaily.com

Drought spawns lots of trout

Cliff Thompson
Lori Martin measures Tuesday brown and brook trout along the banks of the Eagle River near Minturn. The results will help establish the health of the river.

In some streams, double the number of brown trout are present, said Colorado Division of Wildlife aquatic biologist John Woodling.

“Many sites throughout Colorado are aswarm with young brown trout that hatched this spring,” he said. “I stood on the banks of Clear Creek and watched schools of young-of-the-year brown trout swim by me.”

The observations were made by biologists during regular annual fish counts on a number of streams, Woodling said.

There may be some relationship to the strength of the spring runoff and brown trout hatcheling survival.

“When we got high snowmelt years in “95 and “96, we got nothing (in terms of young trout). Age classes were wiped out,” he said.

Last year’s runoff was abbreviated and less-than-normal because of the drought.

“Here we are in a drought the likes of which we have never seen before and the stream is full of fish,” Woodling said. “We don’t know if they’ll survive the winter.”

But there have been no counts on the Eagle River. That will happen April 1 during an electroshocking survey of the stream that is part of the monitoring of the Eagle Mine cleanup, he said.

The numbers of young trout is something he hasn’t before encountered, Woodling said.

“It’s an outstanding example of how nature acts in ways human beings are completely ignorant of,” he said.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com.

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