It’s mid-May, a most wonderful time of year. Trout fishing is heating up, turkey hunting season is in full swing, wild apple/pear and plum trees are blossoming in abundance; and for those who …
It’s mid-May, a most wonderful time of year. Trout fishing is heating up, turkey hunting season is in full swing, wild apple/pear and plum trees are blossoming in abundance; and for those who love to forage, it’s time for dandelions (roots, leaves and flowers all edible ‘healthy’ foods) wild asparagus, wild leeks (ramps), watercress and fiddleheads to round out traditional Catskill fare.
For many years when out-of-town anglers would ask when the best time of year is to fish, especially those who must travel to our area and need to plan ahead, the response is always “the last two weeks of May, first two weeks of June.” River levels are fishable, water temperatures have reached that benchmark of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and fly hatches are becoming more regular.
Last week, there was a tremendous hatch on the Willowemoc between Livingston Manor and Roscoe. An acquaintance reported driving along Route 17 mid-week between 9:00 and 10:00 am and having her car ‘plastered’ with thousands of flies. When asked if she noticed any round green spots on her windshield, she confirmed that indeed she had. That important little observation identified the hatch as that of the Shad Fly.
The “Shad Fly” is so-called as it coincides with the annual run up the Delaware River of the American Shad which return to the river of their birth to spawn, usually in or around the second week of May. The timing also parallels the blooming of the Shadbush, in some areas called Serviceberry or Juneberry, whose delicate clusters of white blossoms spring forth and brighten the countryside during early to mid-May.
The Shad fly is a dark dun-colored caddis fly that sports a visible green egg sac. As with other caddis flies, it is moth-like in appearance, with fluttery wings that lie in a pup-tent shape over its back. The hatch tends to be extremely prolific, and for non-trout fishers, may be concerning when masses of the flies hover in the streets and sidewalks of our towns. However, as I assured my friend, they do not “bite” as they have no mouths – this stage in their lifecycle is solely for the purpose of reproduction and laying their eggs in the water, as evidenced by the egg sacs. Oftentimes the flies will mistake a roadway for a river or stream; thus, the reason for the swarms that appear over the highways and streets that are streamside.
Fishing conditions have been ideal, with water temperatures reaching 60 degrees Fahrenheit; water levels have been below the average flow all week, making many areas more easily accessible for trout fishers to enter the stream and wade. As of this writing on Sunday afternoon, thunderstorms are predicted to continue into early this week, which should provide a bit more volume to our streams.
Checking in with the DEC website, in Sullivan County, there will be additional stockings of brown trout in the Beaverkill during this third week of May, as well as in the upper Willowemoc. In Delaware County, additional stocking of brown trout during this third week of May will occur in the Beaverkill in the Town of Colchester, as well as in the West Branch of the Delaware River in several locations.
All bodes well for good fishing – be sure to get out and enjoy this beautiful time of year!
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