Monday Morning Turnover

| September 11, 2023

Today, we crawl into fall weather like nomads crawling across the hot sand looking for that illusive oasis off in the distance. This time? Well this time it just may be real relief from a summer of heat to remember, one that leaves scars. It is disturbingly similar to that 2011 summer, the one that lead to years of drought, finally ending in 2015. If you have been following along here, 2015 was one of those years.Here is YouTube Video – a local snapshot – of that drought – Water Wednesday Report.

We won’t know soon, whether past is precedent for the water situation in Texas, but we do know that we made it through the summer without the electric grid going down, and that is because of solar power. Remember? The wind died off on the hottest days, and those turbine blades stopped spinning here in North Texas … and those lines on the graph came dangerously close to crossing over each-other. Go ahead and adjust your thermostat …

Speaking of “Turning Over”

I have always read anecdotes about Texas lakes “turning over” in fall, and whether they actually do “turn over” like the lakes in the northern US do. Generally, Texas lakes do not turn over in the classic sense of a northern lake turning over. The reason is pretty simple. Texas is a State that cools slowly in a normal Texas fall. The act of “turning over” happens when the water above the thermocline gets cooled so quickly, it goes to the bottom and the thermocline water comes to the top – an inversion. That colder water has been against the bottom and down in the decomposition and detritus that lingers below the line. Oxygen levels are different as well. And that is where our noses go to work. We can smell a turnover.

Can’t You Smell That Smell?

My understanding is; most times that the smell we come across when the weather turns is actually from algae dying, and not from a Texas turnover. I am sure some of you have been through algae blooms? It wasn’t all that long ago that Lake Texoma was literally shut down for boat traffic because of a blue-green algae outbreak. Once that algae becomes aerosolized? It can be toxic to humans who inhale it. 

Door Number Three

Reading the most recent article, headline reading “Power Plant Lakes Turn Over,” in the Lone Star Outdoor News (vol.20 issue 2 p.1), I am now aware that a cold water influx on the surface can turn a lake over just as the cold air does in the Northern United States lakes. And that rather than a complete “turnover” there is a mixing of the layers, an up comes THAT SMELL

Now, power plant lakes are pretty hot to begin with, and even support great fishing and redfish populations year-round in Texas — for those lakes that are still cooling coal fired power plants only! One could imagine that an unnaturally hot heated lake, generating electricity like crazy in this Texas summer heat, would obviously be hotter (see air temperatures) than a more “normal” summer surface water temperature (Braunig shows 91-degrees September 6). So it does not take much influx to cause that mixing, and a huge rain or drastic cool front could turn a heated lake over more quickly and easily than the lakes we have elsewhere in Texas.

Have you ever witnessed a lake turnover, or a pond turnover? It is quite an assault on the olfactory nerve. 

Thanks for reading this Monday morning! Now let’s turnover a new leaf and come out of our shelters, flare those nostrils, and hit the water … and hope the summer of ’23 really is over now.

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Category: Fly Fishing for Redfish, Life Observed, Science and Environmental, South Texas, TECHNICAL

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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