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Did anyone else get into a Hendrickson hatch?

Posted on April 21 2019

Yesterday before writing my report I looked at stream levels, weather reports and the weather radar. The streams were up but not as bad as expected.  The storm had split in two.  There was heavy rain out west over Lake Erie and rain pounding the coast.  New York was escaping the storms wrath.  All the forecasts said so.  I almost put a cautionary note in the report but the system was unfishable anyway and I wanted to get away from gloom and doom.

Stopped at the Troutfitter's shop in Syracuse Saturday morning and exchanged frustrations with the crusty old regulars who gather there for coffee and donuts.  Talk was about last winters bonefishing trips and the snow pack in the Rockies.  No one wanted to even guess when we could get into the Delaware.

With all the local streams over their banks and muddy, I took a drive along streams I fished before my Delaware addiction.  Ended up at the place I caught my first trout.  It was also probably one of, if not the only, streams in New York low enough and clear enough to fish.  It was originally a feeder in the Erie canal system.  Most of the sources of its water have long ago been diverted but it still receives cold water from two spring fed ponds and for about five miles it was once a blue ribbon trout stream.  Trout magazine  did an article on it, calling it one of the best and most challenging streams in New York.

 The New York State DOT was in charge of maintaining it and regularly cleared brush from the old tow path.  Cedars lined the west bank to block the wind.  It still gets all the may fly hatches in abundance but it is mostly unfishable.  About forty years ago the canal was dredged (from the downstream end upstream to the outlet of the ponds.  All the silt from the upstream dredging settled in the lower reaches . The dredged material was placed on the tow path raising the bank high above the water. The dredging left most of the stream too deep to wade.  The DOT then ceased its maintenance of the canal.  Old Cedars and box elders have toppled into the canal everywhere impeding the already slow flow, honeysuckle chokes the banks  making casting (where you can get into the stream) a real challenge.

Arrived streamside about 2:00 and sat in the car doing a crossword puzzle and listening to the cardinal sing just across the canal.  At about 2:45 I heard a splash and put the puzzle down.  When the Hendricksons started to come I put on my gear and waded in.  In a place that used to be crowded with fishermen I saw one other guy who was throwing a small jig.  He said "Sometimes you can fool em when the water gets cloudy".  He also sent me upstream "to the Christmas trees" where there were "some splashin".

How'd I do?  Sadly, this isn't a story about  a river of monster trout rediscovered.  I had rising fish for about an hour and a half.  A few wild ones, mostly recently stocked yearlings.  Never caught one over ten inches.  But I got to fish Hendricksons on a day when few, if any others did, in a stream filled with memories of days gone by.

It was difficult to see what has become of a once jewel of a trout stream.  It's hard to imagine  there was ever a better target for a stream restoration project.

Oh, in case you didn't know.  That rain that was pounding the coast slid over west and dumped on the Delaware system.  Lordville hit 20,000 cfs, the Beaverkill  8,000 cfs and both reservoirs got more than enough rain to insure spillage for at least the next ten days. The water is warming, the Hendricksons are coming and boat sales at booming. 

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