Hook, Line & Sinker: April 9, 2014

Opening Day of the trout-fishing season in New York State came and went last Tuesday without a lot of fanfare.
Unlike last year’s warm weather (which brought out a great number of reservoir fishermen, many of whom cashed in on the iceless conditions) the Pepacton is still pretty well iced over, at least as of last Saturday when Ed and I traveled along the Barkaboom toward the Ashokan. We did not see a lot of fishing action, that day, save for an ICE fisherman out on Big Pond with his sled and tip up. And, Al Carpenter reported selling “mousies” a few days before opening day. Al also saw his first bluebird sitting on a bird box on Saturday, which is later than in previous years. His first sightings of the NY State bird is usually during the month of March.
Due to the intensely cold winter, most of our Catskill reservoirs are still iced over. A check with the NYC DEP website shows that as of April 7 the reservoirs are about 94.3 percent capacity; the historic average on this date is 97.1 percent.
The average precipitation for the month of February showed an above-average amount of 3.21 inches, as opposed to the historical average of 2.5 inches of precipitation. However, the month of March showed 2.33 inches, which is below the historical average for that month of 3.62 inches.
Talking with a few of our sport-shop owners, Al Carpenter, of Al’s Sports Store, Downsville; Tom Phillips of Pepacton Bait & Tackle, Arkville, and Dave Budin of Del-Sports, Inc., Margaretville, each confirmed that early-season fishing was slow with limited success – due, all agreed, to the cold weather conditions. Al stated that this season’s opener was “way different from any year I’ve ever had…for the whole (first) week, no fish came out of the reservoir.”

Not biting yet
And both Tom and Dave heard similar conditions with reservoir fishermen, although a few trout were caught by customers who had fished the smaller streams, with Dave reporting on a successful group from Shandaken who opened the season in typical fashion, catching a good number of small brook trout out of Esopus tributaries. Dave was out fishing and found “some areas where the feeder streams are coming in to the reservoir that are open enough to get out in” – and those fishing conditions looked favorable, but the trout were slow in taking.
To get an idea of average stream flows in the area, the East Branch of the Delaware at Fishs Eddy was flowing at 2,060 cubic feet per second on Monday. This was slightly above the average flow of 2,150 cfs on this date, based on 59 years of record keeping. The lowest recorded flow on this date of 522 cfs was just a couple of years ago, in 2012; the highest recorded flow over these past 59 years occurred in 1994, when 10,200 cubic feet per second rushed past the gauging station.
The largest trout brought in to Al’s Sports Store was caught by Chris Odell, of Downsville, a nice five-and-one-half-pound brown that measured 25 inches, caught on a Rapala. Also using a Rapala was Ed Merhige, who produced a four-and-one-half-pound brown that measured 23 inches in length; Chance Byington of Downsville, with a 22 and-a-half inch brown that weighed four pounds, 13 ounces; and Bob and Jenny Sobas, also of Downsville, who had a “banner day” catching a 17-inch, three-and-one-half-pound brown and a 14-inch, two-and-one-half pound rainbow trout.