May 16, 2013

Life is Like a River

Spring is the time for snow melt. In the Rockies, spring run-off replenishes the water table and adds greatly to stream flow. In years of heavy run-off, the stream beds are scoured, remodeled , replenished and revived. But for fishers it can be a time of famine.

High water often creates conditions where its either less profitable, or less safe to fish. In tenkara, where we concentrate on high gradient mountain streams, this is particularly true. Therefore it is often important to check stream levels before heading out for some well needed time of your favorite stream or river.

There are many ways to keep track of stream levels, but the classic way is to follow the data provided by the US Geological Survey or USGS.  Data from real-time stream monitors is provided at USGS WaterWatch and is very useful for locals and vacationers alike.

But I prefer a different method of monitoring stream flows. It uses the same data from the USGS but it is provided in a more convenient way to view it. I am talking about river data on Weather Underground. Weather Underground is a highly usual weather forecasting and almanac site provided on the Internet free of charge. Go to it URL, type in your desired location or local ZIP code and bring up the satellite page. Open the layers side bar on the right side of the screen and scroll down to find the "Rivers" button. Click this on and you will see all the monitored streams for that geographical region. If you click on one of the streams you can see the real-time data. This is very useful for planning your next tenkara outing. Weather Underground lets you see weather, cloud cover, wind, and stream data all in one convenient location. Very nice.

The Real-time stream monitors in my area

Another, more mobile way, to monitor stream data is to use your smart phone. I use an app called StreamWatch. This app uses the USGS data for selected states (MT, WY, CO, UT, ID, NM, CA, WA, OR). You select the streams you want to monitor and it will update their data in real-time. You can also set alarms for your favorite streams to tell when conditions are perfect for tenkara.

You have probably been monitoring water data on your local streams before you go tenkara, but here are a few other options for keeping a closer tab on your favorite water. Also, if you plan on fishing here in the west during May and June, it is always good to know what the water levels will be like before you come.

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