Trout fishing in America holds a special place in our national imagination. It has inspired a book, a band and the name of at least one American kid. But now, rising temperatures threaten this treasured pastime.
“The best trout fishing is from 53 to 63 degrees. And above 63 degrees what happens is we begin to lose oxygen in the water,” said Jay Ford Thurston, a retired school principal, author and Wisconsin trout fishing aficionado.
As water molecules warm up and spread out, trapped oxygen molecules are able to wiggle free and escape into the atmosphere. The result is that warmer waters retain less oxygen. That’s bad for trout. According to a report from the University of Wisconsin, at the high end of warming projected by climate models, “brook trout may not survive in Wisconsin at all, and brown trout may decrease by 88 percent.”
“Trout are kind of like the canary in the coal mine,” said Thurston. “If it’s bothering the trout, and they can’t handle the water anymore because it’s too warm, the air is going to be very uncomfortable for man too. And the more carbon emissions we put in the atmosphere, the more global warming is going to impact upon the trout and upon humanity.”