Spring is very early, which is sorta surreal. A buddy of mine and I are talking about fishing the Hendrickson hatch some weekday in April. The hatch usually falls around his birthday which is in late April. My guess is that hatch'll be done by the anniversary of his birth.
With the bugs being early the trout in locals streams are on them. That's not something I'm going to complain about but, again, it is surreal.
A factor compounding our early spring is the mild winter. Little snow; no snow wouldn't be too far from the truth.
As a result, there's not much water right now. It is startling to look at the USGS Streamflow map and see so much red and orange Those graphical indicators of low flows are something you usually see in the late summer. Water will soon be a problem.
I live a long way, physically, mentally and aquatically, from the Front Range of the Rockies. It's a place where water is managed by treaty and tunnel. Here in Connecticut water is relatively plentiful. So much so that some folks just don't understand why protecting aquifers, wetlands, and rivers is so important.
Talking to people in Connecticut about stream flows can be like talking to Martians about conserving red dust. That said, the laws and leanings of a majority of citizens skew towards conservation, if at times at the speed of molasses.
Fortunately, our primary concern is only mother nature when it comes to water in streams. On the Front Range of the Rockies, it's a whole 'nother thing.
Eighty percent of the people in Colorado reside east of the mountains. Eighty percent of the water is on the western slopes. A cruel trick of nature causes most storms to dump their precipitation before they crawl over the Continental Divide. In any given year, thirty to fifty percent of water going to Front Range farms and faucets is from the western slope.
Population growth of the eastern slopes of the Rockies has been extraordinary over the past few decades and is expected to continue in earnest for the coming decades. In the past 10 years the population has grown around 18% and is expected to grow by as much as 50% during the next twenty years.
Unfortunately those folks are going to need water for drinking, toilet flushing, and sadly, lots of lawns. And we ain't making any more water. Current proposed projects could take up to 80% of the Upper Colorado River's flows and send them into tunnels bound for the Front Range.
As I said earlier, water doesn't feel like a scarce resource in the east, but that's deceptive. The early fishing this year has been good, especially for wild trout. We had a great water year last year and the fish have done well.
But this past winter was dry. The streams are pretty to look at and easy to fish, but come July they're going to be low and warm unless we start getting some rain. Some of the small feeders are already down to a trickle.
Streamflow regulations are something we need to strengthen here in the Northeast and things seem to be going in the right direction with a lot of hard work from people on all sides of the debate. I'd like to see our water laws improved, I just hope it doesn't get to a point where water is so scarce that it's no longer for drinking and only for fighting over.
The Watershed Movie Trailer (via Moldy Chum and TU)
Can you imagine a river where so much water is withdrawn that it no longer flows to the ocean? Damn.