Fly-Fishing: Find alternate locations to avoid pulling trout from warm streams

Just how hot was this last heat wave? It was so hot that New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and

Just how hot was this last heat wave?

It was so hot that New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Del­aware all agreed to a significant boost in the amount of cold water flowing from Cannonsville Reservoir into the West Branch of the Del­aware River.

Temperatures on the main stem of the Delaware were well into the upper 70s — dangerously high for trout — as air temperatures climbed through the upper 90s last week. So New York City and the state governments that jointly control operation of the reservoirs on the branches of the Delaware agreed to an emergency flow increase on Friday.

With reservoirs nearly full, thanks to a snowy winter and rainy spring, the West Branch was already flowing at a relatively robust 600 cubic feet per second. The emergency release increased the flow to about 1,000 cfs through the weekend.

The release seems to have worked. Friday, the temperature of the Delaware was 77 degrees at Lordville. By Saturday, the high for the day was 71, and Sunday, the river stayed under 67 degrees.

The release was ramped back down Sunday as cooler weather arrived in the region.

Of course, not all rivers are lucky enough to be fed cold water from deep reservoirs. Free-flowing rivers like the Beaverkill and the West Branch of the Ausable, and even tailwaters flowing from shallow impoundments like West Canada Creek, are mostly quite warm now and will be slow to cool down.

As most anglers know, trout that are caught and released in warm water often don’t survive, even if they seem OK when they swim away. It’s best to leave them alone until consistently cooler weather arrives.

But there are trout fishing options, even in high summer. One is to stay with cool tailwaters, such as the branches of the Delaware and the Neversink River in the Catskills. They get more crowded at this time of year, as many other anglers employ the same strategy, but they’re large rivers and there’s plenty of room if you’re willing to walk a little way from the parking areas.

Spring-fed creeks can also be remarkably cool, even in hot weather. Mike Valla of Stony Creek, author of “Tying Catskill Style Dry Flies,” has an informative and enjoyable piece in the current issue of Eastern Fly Fishing magazine about three spring creeks along the Route 20 cor­ridor, including Oriskany Creek, a gem of a stream about two hours west of the Capital Region.

Shady, high-elevation mountain streams are another option for summer trout fishing. You won’t catch many big trout — mostly brookies in the six-eight inch range — but they’re beautiful fish that live in beautiful places. The air is cooler than down in the valleys, the fish are willing to rise to dry flies, and it’s a highly satisfying fishing exper­ience.

Local rivers such as the Battenkill don’t need to be completely off limits when the heat is on. First thing in the morning, the water is at its coolest, and the trout may even be rising to hatches or spinner falls of summer time flies like the tiny Tricos.

If your stream thermometer reads above 70, it’s best to go home and tie flies. If the water’s in the 60s, go ahead and fish — but try to land your trout quickly and let them go with as little fuss as possible.

When the day starts to heat up, chances are the trout will quit feeding and go look for a cool spot to hole up.

The smart angler will do the same thing. And take heart — Labor Day is only a few weeks off, and the great fishing of fall will begin soon after.

Morgan Lyle’s commentary appears regularly in The Daily Gazette. Reach him at [email protected].

Categories: -Sports-

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