Hook, Line and Sinker: March 31, 2010

Trout fishers are eagerly anticipating the opening day of the season on Thursday, April 1. Depending on how much rain we receive these next couple of days, the outlook for the season opener is a sunny one, with temperatures predicted to soar into the 60s and even 70s by the weekend. Conditions for the trout are excellent following last year’s cool and rainy summer which, although dampening many an outdoor event, provided ideal water temperatures and proved conducive to trout growth. The great water year was followed by a mild winter with a minimum of anchor ice (that often wreaks havoc to our Catskill rivers and streams, and proves destructive to trout eggs and young fish when it breaks up in the spring.)
In addition, the Pepacton Reservoir will be open for boat fishing on opening day, the first time in a number of years that has happened, as the ice is off the reservoir. And Pepacton fishermen can look forward to good shore fishing as well, without having to deal with ice and snow.
A check with the USGS Web sites on the tailwaters in the area (East and West branches of the Delaware) on Monday afternoon showed that those rivers were high due to the reservoirs being over capacity; both Pepacton and Cannonsville were spilling. Early on Tuesday morning, the East Branch at Fishs Eddy measured 4,900 cubic feet per second; the West Branch at Hale Eddy was 2,920 cfs. And also on Tuesday morning, the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls registered 2,050 cfs. The median flow for this date is 1,050 cfs over 95 years of record-keeping.
Given the current flows and rainstorms in the area, many rivers and streams will be high and difficult to wade; most fishing will be done from the bank. And the dark and discolored flows will make flyfishing challenging at best. Most early-season fly fishers will be using an assortment of weighted nymphs and fishing below the surface at the heads of the pools and slower waters. (The riffles heads of the pools are the first area where trout foods, such as dislodged aquatic insects drifting earthworms, will concentrate.) Using a pair of weighted nymphs, such as Zug Bugs and Bead Head nymphs; as well as the larger, dark and easy-to-see Black Leech may be your best bet for Opening Day success.
Spin fishermen usually do well in the early season with worms, spinners and other lures. Favorite choices for reservoir fishermen include Krocodiles, Kastmasters and Fiords, especially from shore. The new holographic Krocodiles, especially those in blue and silver, are especially hot sellers with early-season reservoir fishermen. Although sawbellies (alewives or herring) are not yet available, area sporting goods stores will have shiners ready to sell.
This year the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in Region 4 will be stocking approximately 20,500 yearling trout, mostly browns, and 12,500 two-year-old browns throughout region. According to Region 4’s Fisheries Manager, Norm McBride, there are no new fishing regulations in Delaware County this year. However, trout fishers might like to visit the DEC’s Web site, where they can find maps and information on all of the Public Fishing Rights (PRF) sections of streams in the area. Visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/44854.html You can click on the stream you are interested in. A page will come up that provides a description of that stream’s fishery, with the species of fish present, as well as a note on any special fishing regulations that may pertain to the stream and a maps of all the public fishing rights that are available.
Trout fishers are reminded to be diligent in disinfecting their fishing gear to prevent the spread of Didymo, the invasive algae that can negatively impact trout populations. It has been found in the East and West branches of the Delaware River, the main Delaware, and the Esopus Creek. Wading anglers are a primary means of spreading this algae, which adheres to boots and waders and can be easily spread to other waters without proper precautions, such as soaking equipment for at least one minute with a two percent bleach solution, or three ounces of household bleach mixed with one gallon of water. For more information on Didymo and how you can avoid spreading it, check the DEC’s Web site on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species and disinfection techniques for fishing equipment.
Don’t forget to purchase a fishing license and reservoir permit. Good luck and happy fishing!