Hook, Line and Sinker: March 25, 2009

Opening Day Outlook
Opening day, Wednesday, April 1, of the trout-fishing season here in the Catskill Mountain region looks promising! Despite a very (almost record-breaking) cold and snowy winter, we dodged a bullet in seeing the snow melt gradually, without the torrential rains that could have brought about massive flooding. Instead we are experiencing (at this writing, Monday evening of March 23) average or slightly above average flows in our rivers and streams; coupled with the fact that most of the heavy snow pack has melted and run off gradually and the prospect of fair weather coming this next week, the outlook is good for opening day trout fishers.
As usual, early season fishing is all about fishing “deep and slow” – bait fishermen who use split shot, and anglers using lures along the bottom; as well as fly fishers who use weighted nymphs, will expect the most success, as the trout will be hanging out close to the bottom when water temperatures are as low as they usually are on April 1.
A call in to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Norm McBride (Region 4 Fisheries Manager) revealed that for 2009, stream stocking will be about the same as it’s been in recent years “There is no change there.” However, he cautioned, “The big thing down here is Didymo. It’s in the East Branch and West Branch and Delaware Rivers below the dam. Fishermen in those waters should disinfect everything that comes in contact with the water – before fishing other uninfected waters.
The recommendations are to clean these items to above the 140-degree hot water standard (that is hotter than tap water) or a bleach solution – and soap or spray each item for a minute with a two percent bleach solution. This is for non felt-soled stuff. If your boots have felts, there’s quite a bit longer time needed for disinfecting - for an hour, maybe less. You should take 13 ounces of household bleach, plus water to make five gallons. It’s an extremely effective disinfectant agent, but it’s corrosive to aluminum - boats, etc.” There are some household items, such as “Formula 409” and “Fantastic” that have proven safe to use for disinfecting equipment including aluminum boats, etc. The NYS Fishing syllabus (guide) provides information on pages 58 and 59 on drying and disinfecting techniques used for fishing and boating equipment.
As of Monday afternoon, the reservoir report is that Cannonsville is at 100.2 percent capacity – and spilling, which will cause flows in the West Branch to be on the high side. The Pepacton Reservoir is at 96 percent capacity – and the release is currently 85 cubic feet per second. (Norm noted that they are only obligated to release 65 cfs.) For Esopus anglers, the Ashokan Reservoir is currently at 91 percent capacity, and the Neversink is just 88 percent.
Reservoir and tail water anglers might be interested to visit New York City’s DEP Web site that provides reservoir information, such as capacities and current levels on a daily basis at the following Web address: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/drinking_water/maplevels_wide.shtml.
Reservoir anglers will be interested to learn of the results of the Angler Diary program that Region 4 Bureau of Fisheries conducted on the Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs over the past five years: Norm McBride explained that there had been a question as to whether Cannonsville could support more trout – and the increased stocking program in the reservoir that resulted was found to be successful. Starting in 2005, 5,000 nine-inch yearling trout were stocked that were fin-clipped for identification. Thanks to the Angler Diary cooperators, it was found that last year 48 percent of the fish caught by both shore and boat anglers were fin clipped!
In the Pepacton reservoir, 44 percent of the fish caught were hatchery fish as follows: 41 percent of the legal-sized fish caught and 14 percent of brown trout measuring 21 inches or larger. More information on this study will appear in an upcoming column.
And finally, stream fishermen who are looking for new places to fish will be happy to know that the Public Fishing Rights maps for Region 4 are now up on the DEC’s Web site: by visiting: http://www.dec. ny.gov/outdoor/44854.html scroll down to “East Central New York” and “Delaware County.” Listed are all the Public Fishing areas.