THE BASIC COMPONENTS
What is fish habitat? To start to understand fish habitat, you first must learn from the basics. Fish require water, habitat and food to survive. The quality of these three requirements determines how well fish do in any given environment.
There are two environments that freshwater fish inhabit, those are lake and stream habitats. Because this magazine focuses on stream environments, this article will cover that particular topic. Also, because trout is the primary variety of fish that is mentioned in this publication, we will focus on trout habitat.
Trout streams require three basic components to support their fish populations; riparian habitat, clean and cold water and structure that trout can utilize for both cover and as a feeding habitat. Submerged structure habitat consists of three primary things; weeds, rock and woody debris. Emergent cover habitat is provided by undercut stream banks, over hanging branches, limbs and grasses, etc..
In-channel, submerged or partially submerged structure will also help to break the velocity of flow in a stream, creating holding habitats for trout. Especially in riffle areas, where the depth and surface disturbance created by the gradient is sufficient to hide trout from predators. Flow dynamics will provide cover for trout by altering the surface of the stream’s water flow. The surface chop created by a riffle or counter acting currents can blur the visibility of clear water. This disturbed surface flow will make it difficult for predators to see trout holding near the bottom of a stream. We can consider this habitat as well.
Once you understand some of these basic components of what fish habitat is, you will have an easier task in furthering your knowledge of the topic. The task of being able to know complexities of where and why trout use particular habitats, adds a whole new element to how you look at a stream. This is called “reading water”.