By James A. Ellis
OUTDOORS – May started out with what seemed to be a full on monsoon season. If I recall properly, the first 10 days of May had a measurable amount of rainfall each day. It was rather depressing and annoying to say the least, especially in the turkey woods.
Here we are, barely three weeks later, coming into June and are in desperate need of rain, not only for the trout in freestone streams, but also for our local agriculture. Many farmers have just planted crops within the last few weeks and could really use a boost of rain.
Overall, May showed an average rainfall deficit of around 3 inches. Despite that number, most of the NYC reservoirs that feed tailwater trout streams are still holding above 97% capacity.
Checking in on some of the local United States Geological Survey (USGS) water gauges, it is easy to see how much less water we have in our stream system versus a month ago. Less flow and warmer ambient temperatures also yield an increase in water temperature, as well.
For example, the average cubic feet per second (CFS) flow for the Battenkill during early May was right around the 1,500 mark, which is actually quite high for that particular river. A good average flow for the Battenkill is 750 to 800 CFS. Just three weeks later, the Battenkill is running only around 300 CFS. This means there is five times less water coursing through the river now than a few weeks ago. The air temperatures this week are forecasted to be extremely hot. This factor, coupled with no new precipitation, and already low-water conditions can rapidly increase water temperatures. The bottom line is this is not good for trout. To already be at a point in the very first week of June that present conditions that are off limits for responsible catch-and-release fishing is rather concerning. My rule of thumb is water temperatures 64 degrees and higher. It is time to throw in the towel on the trout fishing front and start targeting fun, warm-water species like smallmouth bass. Bass season does not open until June 15, but you may still fish for them with artificial lures only from now until that date.
The Esopus, which is a somewhat different stream that really is not totally freestone because of the cold water flow from “the portal” and underground tunnel that feeds cold water from the Gilboa Reservoir, nor is a full on tailwater as the amount of cold-water influx from the tunnel does not make up the majority of the flow, it simply supplements the freestone flow. Anyway, the Esopus was already approaching the 64-degree mark as of Memorial Day afternoon.
To check temperatures and flows of USGS gauges, you can simply type USGS Water Data followed by the water body you are looking for in a simple Google search. My favorite way though, is via the RiverLevel app. It is free and a very simplistic format which has a list of favorites that display immediately upon opening the app. Gauge readings are typically updated every few hours.
REELING FOR RECOVERY SUMMER CAMPS
Perhaps your youngster was supposed to attend a DEC camp this season, but the stars did not align given the vast understaffing issue within the NYSDEC camps and they were left hanging out on a limb. There is another, quite similar option summer camp with a main focus on fishing.
Reeling For Recovery will host its first-ever summer camp for kids, July 7-9 at Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths.
There are 20 new kayaks from Jackson Kayak kids will be using during the camp duration.
Other highpoints of the camp include a knot tying class, an intro to flyfishing tutorial, an epic water gun battle, a rod building class, along with swimming, hiking and overall exploring of the Adirondacks.
There is also an ice fishing rod building class. The cost of this additional class is $50 per person/rod.
This is an optional ice rod building class that will take place at parent pickup. Parents and their children will be able to build a fishing rod together with the advice of a professional guide. Each participant will go home with custom lures and rods that they have constructed themselves.
If you are interested in participating in the rod building class, please add the Class Pass to your cart at checkout.
The cost for all youth campers is free. If a parent would like to participate alongside their son or daughter, the cost is $195 per adult. At this time, there are approximately 10 remaining spots available, so act quickly. Registrations are due by June 7.
To sign-up or to secure more information visit https://www.reelingforrecovery.org/event-details/fishing-camp, or send an email to [email protected].
NYHABS REPORTING SYSTEM FOR HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS STARTS
To go hand-in-hand with the lack of precipitation as we get into the heart of the warm weather season, harmful algae blooms (HABs) become more and more prevalent. HABs are likely triggered by a combination of factors that include excess nutrients in our waterbodies such as phosphorus and nitrogen, abundant sunlight, low-water/low-flow conditions, calm water and warm temperatures. HAB occurrence and reporting typically increases each year throughout the warmest months, with the most reports received during August and September. However, this does not mean they cannot occur sooner in the calendar year.
The DEC’s New York Harmful Algae Bloom System (NYHABS) is now active and allows the public and trained citizens to send reports of HABs to the DEC electronically via a simple, user and mobile phone friendly format.
“Harmful algal blooms contain toxins that pose health risks to people and animals, so we want to encourage New Yorkers to be on the lookout this summer as they spend time in the water,” Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in a press release. “The New York Harmful Algal Bloom System is an easy tool that allows the public to both protect themselves by becoming aware of trouble areas as well as to report blooms in an effort to help protect others.”
Once evaluated by the DEC and DOH, reports will be posted to the NYHABS page. The system features an interactive map of current and archived bloom locations to help keep New Yorkers informed. With resources such as the online HABs map and reporting system, New York continues to be a national leader in supporting initiatives to address HABs across the state and to ensure effective communication to the public. The DEC works with the DOH, the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and other State and local partners in leading the most comprehensive HABs monitoring and reporting program in the nation.
Some HABs produce toxins, some do not. However, exposure to any HABs can cause health effects in people and animals when water with blooms is touched, swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled. Exposure to high levels of HABs and their toxins can cause diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation; and allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.
There are four different size classifications for algal blooms:
Small Localized: The bloom affects a small area of the waterbody, limited from one to several neighboring properties.
Large Localized: The bloom affects many properties within an entire cove, along a large segment of the shoreline, or in a specific region of the waterbody.
Widespread or Lakewide: The bloom affects the entire waterbody, a large portion of the lake, or most to all of the shoreline.
Open Water: A sample was collected near the center of the lake and may indicate that the bloom is widespread and conditions may be worse along shorelines or within recreational areas. Special precautions should be taken in situations when a Confirmed with High Toxins Bloom is reported with an Open Water extent because toxins are likely to be even higher in shoreline areas.
When it comes to HABs, the DEC encourages New Yorkers to “Know It, Avoid It, Report It.”
Know It: HABs vary in appearance from scattered green dots in the water, to long, linear green streaks, pea soup or spilled green paint, to blue-green or white coloration.
Avoid It: People, pets, and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algal scums on the surface.
Report It: If members of the public suspect a HAB, report it through the NYHABs online reporting form at https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/66337b887ccd465ab7645c0a9c1bc5c0.
To view the daily updated, interactive map visit https://nysdec.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=ae91142c812a4ab997ba739ed9723e6e.
Symptoms or health concerns related to HABs should be reported to the DOH at [email protected].