Although we have NOT seen much snow this winter, we have seen extremely cold temperatures through most of this winter. Usually about 2-3 weeks of cold, with a few days of warm, then back to clear and cold. Not much precip at all unless we’re hit by one of those brief warm storms, followed by everything freezing in place for weeks.
The white smudge was where the showpile was yesterday – DOT hauled it away (again)
Night before last, we hit about 3 degrees F. Last night was “warm” only reaching 9 degrees. Tonight is supposed to hit 3 again. Thick ice on all the lakes. So… my prediction… Drum roll please (or dumb roll since I’m rarely right)…
Don’t expect the run to be early at all. As much as I would love to see some traffic (and cash flow) as early as possible, there won’t be much in the way of fish. The river right now is freezing from the bottom and growing some thicker surface ice even in the flowing sections. I did hear that the river went up over the past couple days and the weir radar gage confirmed that (the other gages are frozen). Must have been some sort of ice dam upstream that let lose, because the river didn’t add any water… Enough to break up some of the ice sheets and coat both banks with slime.
Chris did go out last week with nothing to report. He saw two fish and they looked frozen to the gravel. No movement at all. I can’t say I blame them… One chrome and one blushed. I know a few locals have been going out since we have such good road access, with little or no success. Yes an occasional steelhead has been hooked, but I think that comes from just happening to hit the fish in the face with a jig, or something.
Without the snowpack, once it does warm up, it will get warm quickly and stay warm. When will that happen? No idea. We have single digit nights as far as the weather forecast goes right now. There is nothing to entice any steelhead to come into the river now and for at least a couple weeks. I believe the river will warm up quicker this year than the lake ice will melt. VERY thick lake ice, but no snow to filter the rain (if we ever see any rain) through to cool it down.
I think this season is looking a lot like 2011. The 21st of March, the river at the lower landing was still frozen over more than a foot thick – even below tideline, but by April 1st, we had a warm rain and all that ice flushed out. It was another low snow year with easy road access all winter, but very cold temperatures to freeze everything up. That year, we didn’t see significant outgoing kelts until about the 23rd of May. Just a few days earlier than in 2012 and 2013, so expect a relatively on-time run… And if I really wanted to go out on a limb, we’ll see the spring fish starting to come in first and second weeks of April, lake winter fish dropping down 3rd and 4th weeks of April. This is what the lower landing looked like in 2011:
It isn’t this frozen right now, but with another couple weeks of these temperatures, it could be… And here are a couple photos of a frozen eagle Chris took a while back and I never posted… The juvenile eagle tried to pick up a fish in the river when the temperatures were this cold. He became coated with ice and couldn’t take flight and couldn[t climb out of the water with the ice-covered banks. A couple days later, we went fishing again and the trail was covered with his feathers after someone ate him. Nature is tough, especially at temperatures like this!