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Clear Creek (Arcade) Water Temperature Study (2007)

In 2007, the NYS-DEC Region 9 Fisheries Office conducted a water temperature study on Clear Creek, located near Arcade. Clear Creek is one of the best wild trout streams in Western New York. Water temperatures at six sites on Clear Creek and two sites on tributaries were monitored daily from June 5 to August 23, 2007. Automated thermometers were set to record water temperatures every 30 min, 24 hours a day. Temperature data were downloaded from each thermometer about every two weeks throughout the study.

Clear CreekThe summer of 2007 turned out to be a good one for this study with several extended periods of hot, humid weather and very low stream flows throughout the entire study period. Overall, Clear Creek was found to have very good water temperatures for the survival and growth of wild brown trout and rainbow trout. In general, brown and rainbow trout do best where water temperatures rarely exceed 70 degrees, however they can survive short periods in water reaching the mid to upper 70's. In Clear Creek, even the most downstream sites (normally the warmest) showed very few days with temperatures exceeding 70 degrees, and none of the sites had temperatures that reached 75 degrees. Also important in determining where wild trout will survive the best is how well temperatures drop off overnight. Clear Creek is fed by spring water through its gravel bottom, and even in the hottest weather all the sites dropped off to 60 degrees or cooler overnight.

Clear Creek water temps at 7 different sites on 7/30/07
Figure 1. Clear Creek water temps at all sites on 7/30/07

Figure 1 above shows the maximum and minimum temperatures recorded at each of the six sites on Clear Creek and the site on a major tributary, Cheney Brook on a particularly hot day, July 30th. Note that this was a very hot day and represents the "worst case" of temperatures on the stream. Also note that Cheney Brook's water temperatures were outstanding, never rising above 56 degrees during the heat of the day! This type of temperature monitoring also allows us to observe how a stream's temperature varies throughout a 24 hour period.

Clear Creek thermometer reading above Bray Road on July 30-31, 2007
Figure 2. Temperature reading of Clear Creek thermometer
above Bray Road on July 30-31, 2007

Figure 2 above shows water temperatures through a 24 hour period from 6:00 am, July 30th to 6:00 am, July 31st at a site (above Bray Road) about midway through the study section. Note that it takes until late morning for the temperatures to begin rising sharply, peaking in the late afternoon, then cooling off at a much slower rate than they warmed up through the early morning hours of July 31st.

When looking for the best places to find trout (wild or surviving stocked fish) through the summer months, anglers need to pay close attention to water temperatures. It is not unusual for temperatures in many streams of western NY, including some stocked with trout in the spring, to reach temperatures too warm for trout. By carrying a thermometer while fishing or on scouting trips to new water, you can discover which streams are most likely to hold good trout populations.