July 2008 Report

2003-2008 Reports
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July 31, 2008 - Lehigh Update - Low Releases!!

Outflow from Walter is now less than 200cfs, and is in fact closer to 180cfs. With the lake sitting at about 1,361' on August 1st we should really not be looking at anything less than a solid 225cfs minimum flow from here on out - - thru the end of recreation season. And here we have a meager 180cfs release! This is really BS!! Even though the majority of the colder (<20c) water from Walter is gone, the trout are still there, and need the water NOW...more than ever! Why are we holding pool?!?! Higher releases, even if it is warm, allows the trout to move around, and find the seeps...not to mention, additional volume dilutes the AMD issues throughout the watershed. Increased releases will also keep more of the river rocks covered which can also hold the water temps down somewhat.

We urge all readers to write the Corps and tell them we need more water for the resource - - especially when there is more than enough in storage right now to accommodate all whitewater releases for the remainder of the season. This is very easy...contacts are pasted below. Bottom line is, there is now way we should be seeing a 180cfs release or anything close to that low of a release from here through October 12!

Army Corps of Engineers Comment Contacts

Khaalid Walls

Edward Voigt

Austin Gerrard

George Sauls

July 29, 2008 - West Branch Delaware Report

It appears the fishing has tailed off considerably since the rains of last week, that crushed some areas of the Upper D Watershed. Hardest hit areas, were the East Branch and the Beaverkill, with the latter spiking above flood stage at one point. The West Branch did not get as heavy rains, but did go off color. On top of that the water is warming up in the lower river, due to the lack of any significant releases.

Right now we are in primetime for Isonychias...which is an imitation that is usually money-in-bank when it comes to pulling up fish during the middle of the day. Nope - - this was not the case. In fact none were observed and only a handful of fish fell for the imitation. Two of the nicer ones, threw the hook shortly after the take. It appears we might be in a holding pattern until we get some colder water.

One other observation is the amount of small and YOY trout in the West Branch system. In some pools the little ones are all over, smacking the surface with wild abandon. Photoed to the right is one that fell to an iso. You can also see some of the algea on the fly. It really was bad on the upper West, but settled out by the time the flow reached the Hale Eddy area.

Small brownie that ate an iso.

July 21, 2008 - Update

Not much doing really. Trying to stay cool is the name of the game until this most recent hot weather moves on out of here - - none to soon. Trout fishing for the most part is now an early morning event, even on the coldest of our PA limestoners. Tricos are hatching like clockwork - - in the 7-9am timeframe. The Tully, and the Little Lehigh are two waters down this way that have pretty dependable hatches.

A good friend of ours was up on the West Branch over the weekend, and said the fishing was slow on Saturday. Once again there was a large slug of water which should have helped the fishing somewhat, once the fish adjusted - - but on this day a storm rolled in, and after the rain ended the fog/mist rolled in. For those who've never fished the Upper D system - - when the fog/mist arrives, the dry fly action tends to shut off...and that is what this person was looking for.

Last week we were able to make another run to the upper Lehigh. This time we were above the Gorge, near White Haven. The quality of the fish was not on par with the Gorge trip we had, but the numbers of fish were impressive. Appears there are still a lot of stockies still hanging on, as well as a lot of recent PFBC planted fingerlings. It will be interesting to see how these hold up over the summer, and into the fall/winter. Water temps are now at the point where catching and releasing trout will put them under a great deal of stress. It is safe to say we need some rain, as well as a respite from this heat. Pictured to the right is just one of many stockies that came to hand during the outing. Again, a dry/dropper rig produced. We are done with the Lehigh for now.

July 14, 2008 - Gorg'in!

Mid-July, trout, big water and a dry n dropper rig. One might think this is only a rocky mountain west gig or at least certainly not much of an option in PeeAy. Well, that is not exactly the case. The Lehigh in the Gorge is exactly this.

While the numbers of fish might not be enourmous, the ones that are there do provide for some exciting fishing. And if they happen to make their way into the fast water when hooked - - watch out! In no time, you will be scrambling along the rocks, chasing them down, as their design is a lot more conducive to nagivating this threacherous waterway.

The plan for the day was to meet early in the a.m., before the sun got up and over the ridge, then hit the rails-to-trail and look for some fishy water. It did not take long until we found what could possibly be the definition of prime trout habitit - - boulders, whitewater, deep slots, runs, eddies - - you name it! And food! Lets not forget the stoneflys! They are everywhere. Both living, and shucked out.

So after we managed to scale down the bank, it did not take long for a stockie brookie to smack one of our bead-head droppers. Shortly there after we got the bow pictured above....which was then followed by a couple of more take downs of our dry indicator. By the way, the bow is prolly a swim-up LRSA stocker. Boy did it make the reel sing! About mid-morning we got a solid wild brown! It is pictured to the right and ate a copper john. In the big water, it put up a great fight! Another couple of missed fish, and one more brookie rounded out the morning. Unfortunately we do not have a picture of the brookie...it sure was a beaut! It measured out to 13", and was all colored up! Definitely a native fish. It smacked a small black bugger.

This was really a great outing! So much water, and not enough time. Hopefully we can get back up in there again this summer.

July 9, 2008 - Lehigh Update - Lehighton

The Lehigh on the Fourth was far from peaceful. It turns out our intentions of a leisurely, family float was not in the cards. Whitewater release, or not, the masses love the Lehigh. The pic below certainly illustrates how un-whitewater it was, and pretty much paints the scene that lasted hours. We floated below the Gorge, and we should have known, but when there is not a release and not enough water to run 'whitewater' trips in the Gorge, the permitted companies just pack the boats onto the Jim Thorpe to Bowmanstown stretch. We've been seeing more and more of this lately. We have no problem with this, however you have to begin to wonder how important the 24 designated whitewater releases are, let alone the cfs of the release when it appears release or no release draws in the business. We also ask for a bit more courtesy toward the angler. Share the river as they say.

Surprising, despite the chaotic scene on the river, the fish still cooperated. The fish have got'n used to the rubber hatch I guess. Water temps were pretty good too, only peaking in the high-60s. During the afternoon the smallies were active and a few trout were caught as well. Not much in the way of bug action was witnessed, so we stuck with subsurface patterns. Going forward the Lehigh below the Gorge might not be trout friendly unless we get some rain, but the roadless Gorge stretch should still fish well. If you plan to hit it, and are a dry-fly-ite, go with a large attractor pattern - stimmies, wulffs, humpies; and for you nymphers, we suggest a large heavily weighted stone imitation. Fish early or late - lo-light. We hope to get up in there this weekend.

Not quite standing room only.

July 8, 2008 - West Branch Water Woes

Rolling into the holiday weekend, we were all set for the steady 250cfs from Cannonsville to continue due to the fact Wallenpaupack was supposed to generate over the weekend, which would mean the Montague target would be met. With this being the case, no additional water from Cannonsville would be needed to boost the Montague target to the magic 1,750cfs number.

Whelp that was not the case. In the early hours of July 4th, NYC DEP turned on the water, to the highest release we've seen all summer, and suddenly the West Branch was ice-cold bank to bank. Nice surprise, although, for the life of me, I cannot understand why we have to go from the meager release to one of more than enough water (800cfs+). Can't we find a happy medium - - like a steady 450cfs all summer long?! For the record, lets just say that this current incarnation of the Flexible Flow Management Plan (FFMP)is a flat-out joke! To be dewatering the West and Upper Main like never before, and to call this new plan a success would be a a crime. Lets hope some serious progress is made in the coming months to address the lack of releases, and the obnoxious yo-yo of flows at Montague. Just take a look at Montague gage, and ask yourself if this is a good enough plan for the Upper D trout fishery. Remember, the water that is now creating the yo-yo at the Montague gage, would have been West Branch water not too long ago.

Anyway, enough of the banter...As for the fishing, once the initial shock of the cold, and stained water moved thru the system, the fishsettled into place by Saturday, and the bugs were out in force. From about 1pm thru dark the Upper West was blanketed in sulphurs, stenos, cornutas and isos. Shortly after the hatch started, the fish were on them. Some places there were more risers than others, but if you really watched the water closely, you could pick up on the more subtle rising fish. By far the most effective fly during the day was what I would call a 'dirty' sulphur. This is a parachute tie, with a poly post, and brown hackle. Body color ranged anywhere from tan to brown, to burnt orange, to yellow - - #14-16. More important was a drag free drift in my opinion. This day produced only browns, ranging in the 13-18" range.

Then on Sunday, the release was dropped a bit more, but the fish were still on the feed. In fact if you fished the lower West on Sunday, the drop in release did not become noticeable until mid-afternoon. This allowed for a morning of steady levels and solid fishing! Caddis...there were not many of them, but just enough to get the fish looking up before and after high noon. It really is something special to pick up trout on drys in the brite sun, on an early-July morning/afternoon. Blind fishing produced by far the most hook-ups - - working the current seems, and edges. However, if you did spot a splashy rise, and you got your fly over the fish, they were on it! Hook-ups were fast and furious, with even one double header. On this day, the 'bows were out in force! Man did they scream line, and rocket out of the water. It was also good to see quite a few small fish jumping after, and blasting drys not having a care in the world.

Overall, it was an exceptional mid-summer, weekend of trout fishing, on one of the best fisheries in the US! But it can be so much better!!

July 2, 2008 - Happy Fourth & Tully!

First of all, have a safe holiday and wave that flag!!

Second...the Tully - Recently we were out on it running a trip, and found quite a few rising fish to caddis, but there was very little hooking of fish. Lots of technical difficulties was the theme that ran thru the outing. Then to cap the night off, we had to tell a bunch of, let's just say, english-speaking, challanged anglers - - and we use that term loosly - - to beat it from the artificial lure stretch. Bait and saltwater rods in hand, they just could not understand why they were not able to fish. This all occured right at dark, so you better believe that quite a bit of this goes on quite a bit. Sure is a sign of the times.

Catch ya on the flip side!