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Stream Channel Modification to Enhance Trout Habitat Under Low Flow Conditions


The traditional impetus for stream improvement for fisheries has centered around restoring channels which have been physically abused by the activities of man (road construction, mining, livestock grazing, etc.) in the presence of an ample water supply. In an increasing number of situations in the Rocky Mountain region, the fishery problems associated with low natural flows are compounded by diversion for municipal, agricultural, or other uses.

Based on water depths and velocities required for various phases of the trout life cycle, channel modification to constrict and consolidate low flows and thereby increase trout habitat in Douglas Creek was carried out in the summer of 1974.

Artificial overhangs and low profile gabion structures were found to be effective, easy to install, strong enough to withstand high discharge, and fairly inexpensive.

Effects of the modification on the fishery cannot be quantified without several more years of evaluation, however trout were found using the artificial overhangs and in the vicinity of all other structures.

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