Does very low temps mean: dams letting out water = current?

Discussion in 'NORTH CAROLINA LAKES / RESERVOIRS' started by tuscan toadfish, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. tuscan toadfish

    tuscan toadfish Member

    Messages:
    180
    State:
    Matthews,
    With the low temps we've been having, (teens at night and mid thirties for highs), are the dams letting out water to generate electricity? We haven't had rain lately, so the dams don't need to let out water to reduce water levels. But, do they let out water to generate electricy to heat houses?
    I'm antsy to go fishing again, but I haven't seen any reports lately as to whether the fish are biting or not. If they are letting out water, that would create current, which may get the blues to biting. I'm thinking of going to Badin or Tillery and braving the cold, but if they're not biting.
     
  2. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,160
    State:
    NC
    "...do they let out water to generate electricy to heat houses?..."

    Great question!!

    The simply answer is yes, but cold weather alone does not increase how often they release water throughout the system. Utility companies no longer rely on hydro-electric power for electricity generation, though it is available durinig peak hours. The drought a couple of years ago is a great example of why hydro-electric power is undependable.

    Duke Energy produces about 1/2 of its electricity in the three nuclear plants in the region. The other 1/2 is produced by coal-fired turbines. These systems are a little slower in their ability to ramp up to full production than hydro-electric is, but once at full operation they can provide all the power the area needs without having to rely on the flow of water.

    Very little of our power comes from hydro-electric. For instance, Duke Energy produces about 3% of its power from dams. The dams obviously produce electricity during high water occasions, but they are mainly utilized during peak demand times during the day. If lake levels are stable, and Duke Energy does not want to move water, then they can use the combustion turbine plants for peak periods.

    So, if the real question is, "since it is cold will they move more water and make the fish bite", no....lol....don't count on that!
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010

  3. tuscan toadfish

    tuscan toadfish Member

    Messages:
    180
    State:
    Matthews,
    Dieter, you are the man, just a plethera of information! All your info got me to digging deeper. I found Alcoa actually owns Badin and Progress Energy owns Tillery. Do they also generate electricity by means other than moving water? I guess my underlying question is; is the blue catfishing better in the extreme cold temps., because of more current or more dying baitfish spurring the blues to start biting? Again, thanks Dieter for all the detailed info!
     
  4. catfishwillee

    catfishwillee Member

    Messages:
    485
    State:
    Knoxville, TN
    big blues have more body mass and can bare the cold water much better that the smaller baitfish can. And just like you said its an easy meal for them because the shad they feed on are either dying or moving veeeerrrryy slow.

    and as far as the dams are concerned just because it hasn't rained does not mean they wont be generating. there are lots of other reasons to generate. there is lots of run off and snow melting from the mountains that takes a long time to make it down stream. also the dams must work together to provide cooling water for various plants and steam plants downstream.

    Unfortunately its not all about the fish, and we must figure out how to use technological advances to catch fish! A perfect example is the flathead fishing in the steam plant lakes in wilmington. It uses cold water from the cape fear which is controlled by the dams upstream to cool its plant then dumps it into the lakes. Soooo right now this means cold water blues in the river and hot water flats in the lake!
     
  5. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,160
    State:
    NC
    "...is the blue catfishing better in the extreme cold temps...."

    I would not say it is better in extreme cold temperatures, but blue catfish do continue to actively feed in cold water. 40-60 pound blue cats have been caught along the Catawba River chain of lakes in the past two weeks, and we are experiencing the coldest snap in 25 years. Is this extreme cold? Compared to other parts of the country, no, but for our area we are seeing lake temperatures drop into a range that we seldom see. Today Lake Wylie was around 40-41 degrees in the back of stainded coves, and 44-46 in the clearer main lake.

    As far as current goes, too much current can be a bad thing. Constantly flowing water for days on end does not "spark a bite" like intermittent water flow does.

    I fished Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee the day after Christmas, and I was warned that the bite was off due to all the water flowing. BOC member EricM told me that there was so much water moving for so long that he had not even been fishing. He was right. We managed some small fish in the backs of creeks out of the current, but that was it.

    "...Do they also generate electricity by means other than moving water?..."

    Those dams/lakes were originally built to provide power for the operation of the aluminum plant. Providing local power was a "side bar" originally. I believe that plant was closed in 2002. Now, they sell power generated from the dam back to the utility companies.

    "... the dams must work together to provide cooling water for various plants and steam plants downstream..."

    Very true. The main reason for the lakes in todays world is to provide cooling water for the coal fired plants and for the nuclear plants. These plants needs a constant supply of water for steam generation, which in turn produces power. The other water need is for reactor cooling, and this is why some lakes will not be allowed to drop below a certain level.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  6. tuscan toadfish

    tuscan toadfish Member

    Messages:
    180
    State:
    Matthews,
    Thanks Dieter and Will for all the valuable insight! I know Richard is right when he says some of us are "way too serious about this catfishing". This is my slow work time of the year and I am trying to learn as much as I can. I know spring will be here before I know it, and I won't be able to be fishing, I'll be working (and thinking about fishing). Again, thanks everyone for the education!
     
  7. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,160
    State:
    NC
    "....some of us are "way too serious about this catfishing"....."

    There is no such thing as "too serious"!!! :sinister:

    You get good, and you get better, by being a sponge and taking in EVERYTHING you can. It is all a puzzle, and each bit of information if part of it. I talk to everyone I can about fishing, and not just catching catfish. Fish are fish, fish eat fish, and it all ties together. Catfish don't sit on one side of the river while the largemouth are on the other. Most of the time they share the same area feeding on the same food sources.

    Just remember, whatever you learn, give back. You will be the one with the answers to the questions someone else is asking.