Hook, Line and Sinker: July 18, 2012

Weather extremes over this past week brought area rivers to dangerously low levels and then back to a more normal flow, thanks to heavy thunderstorms and driving rains on Sunday afternoon.
The Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at 195 cubic feet per second at about 5 a.m. Tuesday. This is above the average flow of 149 cfs over 98 years of record keeping. The highest flow recorded on this date was 2,250 in 2000; the lowest recorded flow was just 43 cfs back in 1965.

The East Branch Delaware River was flowing at 417 cubic feet per second. This is above the average flow on this date of 382 cfs over 57 years of record keeping. The highest flow on the East Branch during this period was 4,000 in 1996; the lowest recorded flow was 105 cfs in 1971.
My husband Ed and I enjoyed a nice fishing trip to both the West and East branches of the Delaware River last week with a group of eight fly fishers. Despite air temperatures reaching into the high 80s and low 90s, we were cool and comfortable standing waist deep in water measuring in the mid-50s.

The coldwater releases from the Cannonsville and Pepacton reservoirs down the West and East branches provide cold and fishable waters at a time when other rivers are low and warm.
We fished the West Branch from late morning till late afternoon in several locations, enjoying a streamside picnic lunch. This is a great way to observe the water and see what is hatching (mostly Sulphurs and a few Isonychias, along with Blue-Winged Olives) with flies from the tiniest midges up to about size #12 (the Isonychias) and rising. The camaraderie and positive interaction with other anglers on the stream helped make our fishing experience a very pleasant one. Some offered suggestions of flies to use, others spoke about past experiences in different pools. We found that small flies (size #16 and smaller) were quite productive, both light (Sulphur) colored as well as brown/gray with parachutes (the white ‘parachute’ makes the flies much easier to see, especially when fishing with 6X and 7X and tiny size #20 flies.)

By evening the hatches on the West Branch had ceased, and we headed over to the East Branch to enjoy a ‘potluck’ picnic supper. The meal was again very enjoyable, providing a great opportunity for streamside observation of flies and rising fish, as well as a relaxing atmosphere to get us ready for the evening rise. Our group split up, some heading upstream, others down. When darkness fell and settled on the water, the moon provided enough light to enable us to stay out a little bit longer before regrouping and heading to our cars.

Another day of similar good fishing was followed by dinner at dusk, which found us in Hancock at the BlueStone Grill, where we enjoyed a delicious repast and an opportunity to share fishing stories of our successes on both rivers.