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Cool water, good fishing

Judy Van Put
Posted 6/27/23

Despite showers and thunderstorms, our area rivers and streams are still below the average level for this time of year; June has always been the lushest month, with plenty of water to draw upon to …

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Cool water, good fishing


Despite showers and thunderstorms, our area rivers and streams are still below the average level for this time of year; June has always been the lushest month, with plenty of water to draw upon to carry us through the hotter months of summer, but this year started out very dry (thankfully ending up with some much-needed rain).

On Sunday around noon, June 25, 2023, the Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was recorded as flowing at 173 cubic feet per second; this is still below the average flow of 215 cfs on this date over 109 years of record-keeping. The lowest flow on June 25 was 69 cubic feet per second, and occurred in 1991.

Our Catskill reservoirs are also lower than normal; the historic percent of total storage capacity, as of mid-June, was 91.5 percent, compared to the normal capacity of 97.7 percent over years of record-keeping. Although we received more rain than average in April, the month of May was very dry – with less than one inch of rainfall (0.93) during the entire month, compared to the historical average of 3.8 inches during May. June’s rainfall was also less than normal, about half of what has been recorded in the past.

However, we have been fortunate as far as temperatures – thanks to the cool evenings and mornings, water temperatures have been favorable, providing good fishing. Trout fishers are wise to try their luck during the cooler times of the day during the summer months, early mornings ideally in locations where the sun is off the water, and later in the evenings until and just after dark.

“Catskill John” Bonasera reported a nice couple of hours’ fishing last Saturday on a couple of his favorite streams, and noted that while on the Willowemoc, he noticed “quite a few unusual mayflies that just hatched” -  namely the “Beatisca obesa” that was written about in Ernie Schweibert’s great work, Nymphs. (See the beautiful photo, taken by John).

That afternoon he noted that the water temperature was a cool 64 degrees, and geared up, catching two hatchery brown trout, followed by three wild browns. 

As evening approached, he sat down on the streambank to observe - wanting to see what was hatching before dark, and after a while noticed a few medium-sized dark mayflies lifting off the water (too far away to identify) and then some Sulphurs, which began to come off a little more steadily. 

He noticed one rise below him, and one across the stream from where he was, and decided to try for the “quiet one” downstream, floating a size #16 Parachute Sulphur over it. The fish took on the first drift, and turned out to be a 17” brown. 

John then picked up three small wild browns that were splashing around and just as he was going to leave, noticed a big ‘dimple’ in the foam line against the rocks on the far side of the pool that was too tantalizing to pass up. After a couple of casts, the fish took his offering – a nice 15” rainbow trout that “made some decent runs that got the reel spinning.”

With continued showers and thunderstorms predicted for the next several days, remember that run-off into a rising river will contain additional nutrients and food. The rain will cause some mayflies, caddis, stoneflies and other insects to be knocked off vegetation into the water, as well as worms, grubs and other creatures stirred up from the soil. And with the barometric pressure dropping during a storm, both air and water temperatures will decrease, as will the ambient light. 

Water clarity is reduced, resulting in the trout being less cautious, enabling them to become more active and aggressive in pursuing food; larger trout will begin feeding more as the smaller bait fish become more active. So do go out and try your luck after a rainstorm!


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