Phenology

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Tyler W
Tyler W's picture
Phenology
I fished hard this weekend with marginal success, but success all the same. This morning I took water samples on the Mississippi, Rum and Crow rivers and found water temps in the 41F to 43F range, which is the temperature I start to catch a few fish. Now I am also noticing the silver maple trees are budded out, the tops of the maples in my yard look like they are covered in pom-poms. Now I know, maple buds opening is a good predictor of fish biting (slowly). In years past, I've found running redhorse the same time I saw the first dandelion blossoms. Does anyone else use phenology to predict fishing conditions? What signs have you noticed where you fish?
Jason E.
Jason E.'s picture
Wow, this is something I've

Wow, this is something I've never deeply considered before. Upon reflection, if I could say I've noticed anything, it's a LACK of a pattern.  I live by a fancy flower garden, and the timing of the arrival of the tulips and other early spring plants does not seem to correlate at all with any kind of fishing pattern. Some years, the tulips pop up in early April, and the fishing is still super slow to non-existent.  Other years, like this one, the fishing picks up in late March, BEFORE the tulips appear. For me, it's all about the timing of ice out. Once the ice is gone, the suckers get active on the St. Croix (I managed to catch about 10 last weekend, north of Taylor's Falls). The eelpout start showing upon the the upper Mississippi too, even if there's still a few chunks of ice around. But the plant life has little correlation. I'm not the most observant person in the world, though, so maybe I miss some of the more relevant and useful plant connections.

kernel j
I've tried, even browsed

I've tried, even browsed photos of wildflowers and such from previous years, but it doesn't pan-out as well for me as it does for many who write about and swear by it.  Weather patterns and flood conditions seem to dictate more fish behavior and movement than daylength in so many years.  Early, warm conditions can bring about movement and activity quite early in Indiana so I play it by ear.  

My latest rule is when the Chives in my backyard start growing, it's prime time for spring fishing.  Those Onion Chives have been known to grow right up through the late winter snow so we love that rule.

I'm a bird and butterfly gardener who has many native pollinator plants on site, some go early on a south facing backyard relative the area around my actual fisheries.  Tough call even on streamside Virginia Bluebells and such so I'll make no claims there.  Wouldn't surprise me to learn there are indeed some consistent indicators, but thus far I have not come across any for my area.

tom
tom's picture
cottonwoods

My best cats have most often come with a big wad of cottonwood seeds stuck in the first eyelet of my rod. 

TonyS
TonyS's picture
going with the flow

I'm a bird and butterfly gardener who has many native pollinator plants on site, some go early on a south facing backyard relative the area around my actual fisheries.  Tough call even on streamside Virginia Bluebells and such so I'll make no claims there.  Wouldn't surprise me to learn there are indeed some consistent indicators, but thus far I have not come across any for my area.

Microclimates make a big difference on plants for sure, quite a few weeks between budding or flowering of any given plant on North vs South slopes - exposed areas vs back in shadows.  My Pasque flowers are starting to bloom and my Ramps are just starting to poke through in spots - which is about the same as last year. Dandelions are blooming already in exposed south facing places in the neighborhood.  I haven't gotten out fishing open water yet this year, will this weekend.  I can look at the gauges and see this spring seems to be much lower water than last year and last year was a pretty low year overall.  I tend to plan my fishing on water levels and weather more than anything.  Seems like water temps nudge the fish movements around a bit from general seasonal patterns but flow rates and rising/falling seems to matter more for me

vanner
vanner's picture
A coworker once told me about

A coworker once told me about a great spot to fish suckers in the spring. He also added that they run when the aspen leaves are the size of a beaver's ear. I went out and confirmed that "Sucker Falls" was indeed a great spot to catch suckers in the spring. But, by the time the aspen leaves are as big as a beaver's ear each spring, the suckers are long gone. 

Tyler W
Tyler W's picture
Flow

River levels have been way down. And, they do seem to impact fish movments more than I expected. So, my initial excitement about water temps and maple buds was severely dampened when I couldn't catch a redhorse! Live and learn. 

garman
garman's picture
Phenology

Since 2006, I've been keeping thorough notes of every fishing trip, fish caught, and weather and environmental observations.  Through spring I note First of the Year blooms and animal activity.  I agree with others who point toward local, more temporary conditions, affecting fishing success.  Bottom line:  I get out fishing when I can and river flow/clarity and current weather conditions influence where and how I fish.

On a related note, I've been tracking atmospheric pressure lately.  It too doesn't seem to correlate with fishing success.  Nor does it match the predictions of "fishing barometers".

I first read your title as "Phrenology".  I've always wondered if my head shape is right for fishing.

Goldenfishberg
Goldenfishberg's picture
I like to watch the birds

I've noticed in my angling years that when the red breasted robin comes back from its warm suncation home the white suckers start to turn on. They eat very similar food items, robins being worm lovers and all. Really what are birds other than just fish of the sky. I've also noticed when I hear the call of the sand hill crane in spring it means the redhorse will soon be attending my getting snagged on the river seminars while trying to angle them. 
And I have noticed the first wood ducks of the year start to turn up in the backwater areas where the water has warmed enough for carp to fancy the Shallows again. Birds n fish, more similar than we think perhaps??

Ya just Can't catch um from the couch.