Hook, Line and Sinker: April 18, 2012

Water levels continue to slump. We are looking at serious drought conditions with the lack of winter snow and substantial spring rains. At this writing, Monday morning, April 16, the USGS website posts that the East Branch of the Delaware River at Fishs Eddy was flowing at a paltry 404 cubic feet per second. This is the lowest recorded flow on this date over 56 years of record keeping. The average flow on April 16 was 1770 cfs; the highest recorded flow was 14,800 cfs in 2007. The lowest recorded flow was 585 cfs in 1968; we are currently more than 25 percent below that level.

Fly hatches continue to occur weeks ahead of schedule, another noteworthy event of this unusual 2012 fishing season. Over the weekend we found a tremendous Shad Fly hatch, a good three weeks early. On Monday we found a Hendrickson hatch. When we arrived at our destination at about 1:45 p.m., the air temperature was 81 degrees - and water temperature was 57.

Goose watching
A nesting goose on the edge of the bank watched us pass by, as her mate flew at us a couple of times to try and scare us away. We saw violets and trout lilies blooming - another sign that Mother Nature is early with her gifts this year. The river was low and all the trout seemed to be located in the pools. We were grateful that the stream hadn’t been stocked yet, as it would be difficult for buckets of fish to find a safe place in which to abide. Hendricksons were hatching but not in the “snowstorm” abundance they are known for. A few fish were rising that took our offerings of Adams flies in sizes #14 and #16. The brown trout we caught were strong and in good condition.

The Shad Fly is actually a caddis fly with a notable green egg sac, and is so named as it makes its appearance at about the time that the Shad run up the Delaware, usually during the first week of June. The Shadbush, also called June Berry or Service Berry, blooms at this same time, and sure enough, we saw shadbush blooming as we drove along the river – also three weeks early.
Pepacton Reservoir has been fishing so-so, according to Mike Cornwell of Al’s Sports Store, Downsville. One fish was brought into the store, a four and one-half-pound brown caught by Jack Baldwin and Juan Martinez of New Jersey who were out in their boat fishing with sawbellies.

On Monday morning, Phillip O’Dell was fishing the East Branch Delaware and caught a beauty of a brown trout that weighed four and three-quarters-pounds and measured 23 and-one-half inches. Interestingly, when the fish was cleaned, its stomach contents included two seven-inch-long salamanders, described as “black with white spots.”

Mike reminds Pepacton boaters that it is mandatory to wear life vests until May 1. The NYC DEP is enforcing this law strictly “due to the early fishing on the reservoir with no ice, but the water is still pretty cold, and so people are advised there will be a ticket issued if you are not wearing a life vest.” After May 1 boaters are still required to have a life vest in their boat but not required to wear one.

As of Memorial Day weekend canoes, kayaks and sailboats will be permitted on the reservoir. Those wishing to bring their water vessels to the reservoir must obtain a permit (which can be accessed online – go to http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/forms_and_permits/index.shtml) and have their water vessel steam cleaned. There is usually a $10 fee for steam cleaning; this can be done at Al’s Sports Store, Downsville, and an application must be filed – which, according to Mike, can be completed in about 20 minutes. As with rowboats, other watercraft can be left at the reservoir for one day to seven days, or for the entire season.

Week of April 11
The windy weather we experienced last week seemed to be more like March than April and was difficult to accept given the April-like balmy days we enjoyed back in March! High winds are not the fly-fisher’s favorite conditions in which to fish. Nevertheless, the incredible numbers of flies on the water brought many out to try their luck, despite the challenging conditions.

It seems as though fly hatches are two and even three weeks ahead of schedule with sightings of Blue Quills, Quill Gordons and even Hendricksons reported in good numbers on the water along with various caddis flies. Fly-fishers have been successful in raising trout, although fishing with nymphs below the surface is more the norm for early April fishing.

Area rivers and streams remain at low flows, as there has been no rain since “opening weekend” and the ground is drying rapidly, also due to the high wind conditions.

The Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at 277 cubic feet per second (cfs) as of Tuesday morning, April 10. This was less than one-third the average flow of 1,040 cfs for this date over 97 years of record keeping. The highest flow recorded on this date occurred in 2001, with a volume of water measuring 7,070 cfs. The Beaverkill has now surpassed the lowest recorded flow on this date of 393 cubic feet per second in 1946.

Low water levels
The NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s website shows that the Catskill reservoirs are at about 91.2 percent capacity. The ‘normal’ capacity for this time of year is about 96.4 percent.
Al Carpenter of Al’s Sports Store, in Downsville reported fishing in the Pepacton Reservoir over Easter weekend was slower than usual due to the excessively windy conditions. Anglers have found it difficult to get out in their boats.
However, there have been a few young anglers who had have success. Tim Engel from downstate was fishing a Krocodile from shore when he managed a nice brown trout that weighed five pounds, five ounces and measured 25 inches. Traveling up from Pennsylvania and fishing with his father, young Cory Coulthard bagged a six-pound, 14-ounce brown trout that measured 28 inches. Cory used a shiner to catch his fish.