A spring creek originates from an underground source—a spring. Because of their gentle gradients, spring creeks are generally flat and smooth; they are found in valley floors rather than in steep canyons.
A spring creek’s underground water source produces a constant flow volume, and seasonal variances are slight. Usually spring creeks are not subject to the high runoffs which erode out the streambed channel. Instead, spring creeks have stable flows and streambed channels.
Rooted aquatic plants favor spring creeks because they are free to grow, sheltered from the scouring of high water flows. This allows plants to grow extensive rooted weed beds which provide prime habitat for both aquatic insects and fish. The enhanced surface areas of the leaves and stems support an abundance of hiding places for insects to live and feed. Fish devour these insects.
Spring creeks are generally slightly alkaline in nature. This basic pH range favors plant, insect, and fish growth. A spring creek’s underground water source filters through carbonates and alkaline elements enriching its water quality.
Spring creeks have stable temperatures. The ground flows arise at a constant year-round temperature which is generally between 50-55°F. The spring’s temperature is not influenced by its downstream
climatic conditions. This is a year-round advantage because the energy required to alter the core temperature of a large volume of water is great. For instance, in the wintertime a spring creek enjoys warmer temperatures than its surroundings and in the summertime a spring creek savors cooler temperatures. Hence a spring creek’s extended growing season favors fish because they are insulated from severe temperature variances. Much of the year a spring creek’s temperature is near the preferred range for fish growth.
At times of extreme hot or cold weather, fish seek refuge in the proximity of a spring creek’s source. Here the fish are sheltered from winterkill or summer heat die-offs.
In short, a spring creek’s favorable conditions of constant flows, optimal alkalinity, abundant vegetation, and stable temperatures all contribute to enhanced fish production. The only disadvantage I’ve found is that spring creeks are somewhat scarce and the good ones have already been discovered. Their reputations make them popular angler destinations resulting in crowded fishing. Just visit Idaho’s Harriman Park during its green drake hatch and you will be amazed at its popularity. Some spring creeks require reservations.
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