It’s Summertime! Graduations have taken place, school is out, and life in the Catskills settles into a new mode. We certainly have been on a roller-coaster as far as weather and temperatures …
It’s Summertime! Graduations have taken place, school is out, and life in the Catskills settles into a new mode. We certainly have been on a roller-coaster as far as weather and temperatures are concerned – last week our neighbors started up their woodstove, others turned up the heat due to the chilly 36-degree mornings – but as of Sunday afternoon, the thermometer on our deck registered 130.9 degrees in the sun!
The Beaverkill at Cooks Falls registered about 73 degrees Fahrenheit late Sunday afternoon, however water flows were above average, measuring 237 cubic feet per second, which is above the (mean) average flow of 203 cfs over 108 years of record-keeping.
Trout fishers would be wise to keep a water thermometer in their fishing vest or as part of their summer fishing tackle; in fact, beginning Friday, July 1 through August 31, Beaverkill anglers will be temporarily prohibited from fishing the Iron Bridge pool at Horton downstream to the first Route 17 overpass in order to protect the trout population.
Now that we are in the warmer season of summer, many fly hatches will be comprised of flies that are progressively lighter in color and smaller in size than their early-season spring counterparts. During this time of year, you should still be seeing Blue-Winged Olives and various sizes of caddis flies along with the slate-colored Isonychia mayflies, which tend to hatch in the afternoons. But in addition, Light Cahills, Sulphurs and Yellow Sallies (stoneflies) should be out and about.
The best times to fish during this warm-weather season are in the early morning and in the late evening when the sun is off the water. Even a few degrees can make a difference as to whether fish will be rising or not. If none are observed feeding, you might try the riffle areas at the heads of the pools and deep runs, rather than the flat pool sections, until later in the evening.
Once our free-flowing rivers and streams become too warm to fish in the heat of summer, many trout anglers head to the tailwater fisheries of the East and West Branches of the Delaware, as well as the Neversink and Esopus, to take advantage of the cold-water releases from the bottoms of the Pepacton, Cannonsville, Neversink and Schoharie reservoirs.
Originally, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection had planned a shutdown of its Catskill reservoir system for five to eight months this year to connect a bypass tunnel it had constructed beneath the Hudson River at Newburgh to replace a “profusely leaking section of the Delaware aqueduct.” The aqueduct carries via gravity approximately 600 million gallons of water per day from four Catskill Mountain reservoirs, providing about one-half of New York City’s water supply, to a holding reservoir north of New York City. Fortunately, the shutdown has been delayed until 2023 and will probably occur during Autumn next year.
Many area residents (and their fathers and grandfathers) worked to build these tunnels, reservoirs and the Delaware Aqueduct, which was constructed mostly during World War II. The aqueduct is 85 miles in length and is a critical part of New York City’s water supply system. The entire system, comprised of 19 reservoirs and three lakes along with the connecting tunnels, has been praised for its engineering ingenuity and has been described as, “An engineering feat as impressive as the aqueducts of ancient Rome.”
Cold water releases from our Catskill reservoirs are carefully monitored by the Delaware River Master, who was first appointed by the Supreme Court in 1954, for the purpose of checking and correlating stream flow measurements and records and compiling data on water needs, among other duties. These bottom releases are successful in lowering water temperatures and raising the level of the rivers below, providing a healthy environment for trout. The cold water that is released from the bottoms of the reservoirs is estimated to be only about 41 degrees Fahrenheit when it enters the rivers below, which are called “tailwaters.” They provide excellent fishing and are a refreshingly cool alternative on a hot day.
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