Jay Thurston: Turbidity in the water is good for fishing

Jay Thurston: Turbidity in the water is good for fishing

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Jay Ford Thurston

Jay Ford Thurston

In the trout water of Southwestern Wisconsin and West Wisconsin, we have a lot of limestone bedrock in the soil. As the water seeps through the bedrock, it turns into an acid and dissolves the limestone. The result is we have limestone in the water that bubbles up from a spring that feeds into the streams. This is the best water to produce food for fish and it will grow big trout.

Sid Gordon, in his book titled, “How to Fish from Top to Bottom,” wrote a great deal about turbidity in the water. He considered the turbidity good as it provided food for trout. Sid Gordon writes, “A beginning fisherman, or a person who does no fishing at all, is more or less mystified by the varying opinions about the merits of the waters. He sees absolutely no differences between the waters of one lake or stream compared with another.”

Sid Gordon considered five different qualities of water. “Yet there is a vast variation for there are five different qualities of water. These qualities are designated as very soft, soft, medium, medium-hard, and hard. Each quality has its own inherent characteristics, and each body of water has its individual color.”

“When you take a chemical test of water you are determining how many parts per million of bound carbon dioxide it contains. Or to put it more simply, you are measuring its lime content. The more lime it contains the more fish food the water will grow.” I have been told that the closer you get to Viroqua the more lime content the water holds. This is a great place to fish for trout.

Sid Gordon went on to explain the advantage of plankton in our waters. “Plankton is composed of tiny plants and animals, some so small they have to be magnified from 500 to 1,500 times to be seen. The animals are known as zooplankton and the plants are called phytoplankton. Thousands can be squeezed through the mesh of your finest linen handkerchief. The tiniest are called nannoplankton while those which we can just barely see in the water without the aid of a magnifying glass in those almost as large as the head of a pin are all called plankton. Sometimes there will be 20 million to a quart of water.”

Our trout streams have a lot of plankton and our waters have a greenish color to them. The plankton change the turbidity in our streams which may help you to catch more trout. The plankton will absorb the sound you make as you wade upstream and it allows you to get closer to the trout.

After we moved from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to a farm near Pardeeville, Wisconsin, I can remember fishing Lawrence Creek in Marquette County. The stream flowed through sand and the water was crystal clear. As I fished upstream I was scarring trout and they moved under the bank or upstream to the next hole before I even made a cast. At that time I didn’t know how my wading was scaring the trout. I finally did figure it out by wading on the shallow side, without making a wave, and I caught my one ten inch brook trout. I learned early in life about how turbidity in the water absorbs the sound you make.

Soon after my wife and I moved to Viroqua from Bayfield County I was fishing French Creek, in Iowa. It was a clear stream and I could see a lot of trout in the pools that knew I was there and they moved for cover. A week later, I was back on French Creek and I decided to fish further downstream where there was turbidity in the water. In four casts, I caught three trout and the largest was 20 inches.

Five years ago in late February, I was fishing Camp Creek. It was flowing clear as streams do in January and February. I was fishing upstream where the small stream meandered every 30 feet. As I waded upstream I saw a large 18 inch brown trout that went around a corner to get away from me. So I waded carefully and he knew I was still there as he went around the next corner 30 feet away. Then I waded very slowly in the shallow water, paused after making each step, and at the next meander he slipped away from me. That trout with that long lateral line knew I was a fisherman that he wanted to keep away from. I reeled in my line and went home.

You will have better fishing for trout with turbidity in the water in March and April with the melting of snow than in January or February with snow cover. Turbidity in the water absorbs sound and it can help you catch more trout.

Jay Ford Thurston is the Broadcaster’s trout fishing columnist. He can be contacted at trout@mwt.net.

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