If you like cold water — and if you’re a trout, you do — you’ll love New York this month.
Dry winters and warm springs sometimes make rivers and creeks dangerously low for trout at a time of year that is important to the fish’s development, not to mention the most anticipated time of year for fishing.
There are no such worries this year, at least so far; most New York trout rivers are starting the season nice and full.
As of Tuesday, the Battenkill River was running almost exactly normal for this time of year, which is to say, a blown-out 1,800 cubic feet per second.
There’s no U.S. Geological Survey gauge on the Kayaderosseras Creek, but there is one on one of its tributaries, Glowegee Creek in Milton, and it’s running at about 140 cfs when the average for the date is around 80.
The West Canada Creek is roaring along at 3,400 cfs down near Herkimer, about 50 percent above mid-April average, and it’s running almost as full way up in Wilmurt, upstream of Hickley Lake, as the melting snow pack drains out of the central Adirondacks.
Fishing on any of those streams is slow, with frigid water, difficult wading and little, if any, trout activity at the surface. However, if you can reach a pocket of “soft” water
and fish a nymph or streamer slowly and deeply, you may hook up — and may, in fact, hook your best fish of the season. You don’t see many dinks this time of year.
In the Catskills, where the flows on many streams are regulated by man as much as by nature, some anglers have been worried about the effect of new rules on releasing water from reservoirs. Again, there’s no need to worry right now — Cannonsville Reservoir on the West Branch of the Delaware is spilling 1,000 cfs over its dam, and the Delaware’s East Branch and main stem are twice as high as they normally are in April, which is plenty high.
Of course, next year could be different, and that’s what worries some people about the new rules. The Flexible Flow Management Program adopted in September by the Delaware River Basin Commission sets a minimum flow of just 80 cfs from Cannonsville in April, which by anyone’s standards is pretty stingy. In May, a critical month, the base release would go up to just 180 cfs, which is still less than desirable.
Trout Unlimited and a number of other conservation groups have asked the DRBC to increase the May release from 180 cfs to 250, and to boost the rate for June, July and August from 250 cfs to 350.
Over the winter, the DRBC extended a public comment period on the new rules, which are in place right now on an interim basis. The commission had hoped to make the new rules permanent in May, but because of the extended public comment period, a final vote has been pushed back to at least July, according to Clarke Rupert, the DRBC’s communications manager.
Let’s hope the DRBC agrees to the higher flows proposed by Trout Unlimited when the matter comes to a final vote. Let’s also hope the rivers and creeks recede, in an orderly fashion, to the point of fishability in time for the Hendrickson hatch and the good fishing it brings.
And let’s be grateful to have plenty of the cold water that trout need in order to thrive.
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