The Stream Doctor

October 31st, 2004

Email YOUR Questions directly to the Stream Doctor. This is your opportunity to get an experts professional opinion on anything stream related.

Q. What does pH stand for, and how does it effect fishing?

A. This could get long and technical, but I'll not bore you with a lot of chemical talk. Basically, pH is a number that reflects the relative acidity or alkalinity of water. pH ranges from 1 to about 12, but the extreme values are rarely found in nature; the lower the number, the more acid the water. Neutrality is around pH 7. Most natural waters not impacted by some outside source will generally range from pH 6 to a little over pH 8. Thus, if you find water having a pH near the extremes, it is likely a pollution situation or some very unique natural situation. Chances are that most of the waters you fish will be on the alkaline side of neutrality.

How pH affects fishing is a bit harder to answer. Different fish can tolerate different levels of pH, so rather than affecting the fishing, pH governs what fish species might be present.

If you have a question, please feel free to contact me.
~ C. E. (Bert) Cushing, aka Streamdoctor
105 W. Cherokee Dr.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Phone: 970-577-1584

The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and author, now living in the West and spending way too much time fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature at

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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