The trout fishing season of 2017 was welcomed in on Saturday, April 1. Some area rivers and streams had a lighter turnout than in years past, possibly due to  the cold water temperatures and intermittent precipitation, which seemed to keep all but the most seasoned anglers out of the water. However, a number of hardy fishermen, including many area youngsters who cast their lures into the high waters of the East Branch Delaware River in Downsville, were rewarded with good catches of fish. Quite a few trout were taken on big Rapalas, spoons and large minnow imitations. One young couple had success fishing with a “Flash Champ”, taking a couple of fish over 20 inches; another group of local kids had caught at least 15, keeping just the two largest.  Kenneth Young, a 7-year-old Corbett  youngster, fishing with his Dad, managed a couple of browns on opening day and a rainbow trout on Monday.

    The Roscoe Chamber of Commerce held its annual “First Cast” at Junction Pool, and word had it that an out-of-state fisherman was happy to have made the trip, as he caught a foot-long brown trout while fishing below the surface. And those who visited the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum along the banks of the Willowemoc enjoyed homemade hot soups and baked goods provided by 100-year-young Agnes Van Put, who touched many a heart with her sunny smile and warm hospitality.

    Fly-fishers typically do not fare as well as bait- or lure-fishers in the early season, until water temperatures increase. Trout are cold-blooded creatures; their body temperature is exactly the same as that of the water temperatures they reside in; this affects their digestive enzymes. When waters are cold, trout feeding activity is decreased; conversely when water temperatures rise, their appetites increase. 

    Cairns Pool, located on the lower Beaverkill in Delaware County, just below the Sullivan County line, was lightly fished on April 1 - and two days later, on a 60-degree sunny Monday afternoon, just one lone fisherman was seen. Cairns is the most popular pool on the Beaverkill, and it is not unusual to see a dozen fly-fishers casting all throughout the pool. It was named after the Cairns family, owner of adjoining lands, who were early Beaverkill settlers, farmers and raftsmen. 

It provides easy access, is located right along Old Route 17, and becomes a favorite spot for trout prospectors cruising up and down the river looking for rises. Its an unwritten rule of thumb that if trout are not rising at Cairns, they are not rising anywhere on the Beaverkill.

    Pepacton Reservoir anglers had some success fishing from shore; with a number of fine, fat fish being taken on opening weekend. Al Carpenter, of Al’s Sports Store, Downsville, reported that there has been “a lot of dead bait in the reservoir floating around” and good numbers of smaller trout have been feeding off the surface. Al weighed a five-pound, two-ounce brown that measured 22 inches in length; another brown that weighed five-and-one-half pounds and measured just  20 1/4 inches in length; and a seven-and-one-quarter-pound brown that measured 25 inches long. Most were taken on Krocodiles. 

    If the remaining ice melts in the next few days, there’s a chance that boats may allowed out on the reservoir by this weekend. The city has been releasing 7000 cubic feet per second into the East Branch since last week. The 42-degree water is warm, and is keeping the river relatively clear downstream. The lower East Branch is just slightly discolored - which is when below-the-surface minnow imitations, large streamers and lures work best in the river.