Hook, Line and Sinker: August 1, 2012

Al Carpenter of Al’s Sports Store in Downsville reported that trout fishermen on the Pepacton Reservoir have been seeing better numbers of fish, and that the fish are starting to look a little bit heavier; “fairly healthy, not fat, but a little bit better,” he said.

The mystery of what the reason is for the condition of Pepacton trout continues. I put in a call in to the Stamford office of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and spoke with a biologist, who referred me to a DEC spokesperson in Schenectady. I called that person last week and have still not received a return telephone call, but the biologist in Stamford left me a message saying that they believe the problem with the skinny Pepacton trout could be the result of less baitfish in the reservoir, and that perhaps DEC would conduct a study. I intend to follow up to learn more about the situation.

Rich Lombardo of Pennsylvania was fishing with sawbellies and reported catching six trout and lost three. The largest fish weighed six pounds, ten ounces and measured 26 inches. Rich was fishing last evening.

Derby is over
The Pepacton Trout Derby ended yesterday. Currently holding first place is John Bock of Roscoe, with his eight-pound, 14-ounce brown trout that measured 25 and-a-half inches. John was trolling with Sutton Spoons when he caught the big fish.

Hanging on to second place is Joe DiBlasi from downstate whose seven-pound, seven-ounce brown measured all of 28 inches – a long, skinny fish. Joe was also trolling when he caught his trout.
And still in third place is Chris Stanko from New Jersey with a brown trout that weighed seven pounds and measured 27 inches. Chris used a sawbelly to catch his fish.

The past week of heavy rain showers have brought river levels up to more normal and fishable levels. The East Branch of the Delaware River is fishing well and, similar to the conditions on the lower Beaverkill, fly fishers are observing trichos hatching in the mornings, Blue-Winged Olives during the day and Isonychias and Sulphurs hatching in the afternoons and evenings.

This is also the time of year for terrestrials. Friends from overseas were visiting recently and had a banner day of fishing using imitations of ants, beetles and hoppers (grasshoppers). These flies are often used with success where tree branches and vegetation overhang the stream, or near fallen logs, especially after a rain shower. Remember to drop down in tippet size with smaller flies; use 5X for sizes #14 and #16; 6X for #16 and #18, and 7X for midges or flies in the size #20s.

We had an interesting fishing trip last night. After supper we headed out to a secluded brook trout lake we hadn’t fished for two years, but had fished for many years before. On our drive to the lake we enjoyed seeing a good representative of Catskill wildlife: a fawn, a red fox, a turkey, a black bear, a nice buck, a hawk, a family of mergansers all lined up on a log.

Supplies choked off
However, upon reaching our destination at the very back of the lake we found the spring-fed inlet choked with silt and remnant beaver dams (no longer active, but probably responsible for the accumulation of silt) and large masses of weeds where the best fishing used to be. In addition, at 7:15 p.m., the water temperature measured 75 degrees – at the coolest point of the lake where the spring water entered! This was always a lake where you would cast your wet flies (usually a Royal

Coachman dropper and Blue Quill or Zug Bug as the end fly) to the rise and expect to catch a trout each time…but on this trip there were no rises, and after some time spent casting, we decided to reel up, as our prospects of catching trout seemed slim to none.

Bear experience
Our walk back out along the other side of the lake proved interesting – we were almost out of the woods to the clearing when we spotted something dark down by the water’s edge – another black bear – and as we approached, it scrambled up the hill and right onto the trail toward us!
Ed shouted and clapped his hands – and the bear stopped, looked at us as we kept approaching, and then after several more shouts of “Go on! Get out of here!” the bruin scampered off up the trail and into the woods above.

It was an experience that provided lots of car talk on the way home – and we arrived home trout-less, but satisfied with another reminder of why we love these Catskill Mountains, the place in which we live and call our home.