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A river in trouble

Posted on May 31 2015

Fished the West Branch in a couple of places above the Gentleman's
Club.  It was a Saturday and I wanted to avoid the crowds.  Just a few
years ago this was the most heavily fished part of the entire system.
Yesterday I had my choice of almost any pool.

Why?  There are almost no rising trout.  The bug hatches  that once
flourished there have disappeared.  The trout that are there are big
but few in number.  There are almost no small trout in a part of the
river that contains the largest spawning area in the entire river

The decline  seems to have drawn little attention from the DEC or
river support groups such as FUDR.  I am not a fishery biologist and
have only personal  observations to go on but there has been a
tremendous buildup of silt in the affected area over the past few
years.  The silt covers the bottom and the only significant fly
hatches seem to occur in that part of the riffles where the current
has been sufficient to wash the silt away. It seems quite probable
that the silt build up is adversely affecting both insect survival in
the nymph stage and trout spawning success.

My best guess as to the cause?   The new flow plan wherein NYC is
attempting to mitigate the chances of flooding during spring runoff by
drawing down the  reservoirs  prior to snow melt.  This year there was
no spill yet the Hale Eddy gauge rose to almost 4,000 c.f.s. on runoff
from silt laden tributaries alone. With no significant spill from the
reservoir to carry the silt downstream, the silt is deposited in the
slow water immediately downstream of the tributaries


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