It seemed like late winter had returned to the Catskills this past week - or at least the ides of March, with several cold windy days and overcast skies. The rains that were promised over this past weekend never materialized, and area rivers are below the average flow for this time of year; especially with the leaves just now filling out on the trees (a bit late this year) drawing on the water table….but with the spring flowers blooming, and colorful songbirds returned and nesting, it’s a very beautiful time of year to be out and about.
The Beaverkill at Cooks Falls was flowing at 292 cubic feet per second on Tuesday morning, May 24. This is below the average flow of 504 cfs over 102 years of record-keeping. The East Branch Delaware River at Fishs Eddy was also lower than the average flow; registering 650 cubic feet per second as opposed to the 61-year average of 964 cfs. With the colder weather and nights this past week, the 60-degree water temperatures we enjoyed at the beginning of the month went back down to the low 50s; but the past couple of sunny warmer days have brought water temperatures up to near 60.
The blossoms on our lilac bushes are finally starting to open up, and this week the wild honeysuckle bushes began to bloom with their long, spiky cream-colored flowers that are so prolific in our Catskill mountains and meadows. The timing of these most fragrant blossoms coincides with the appearance of the Grey Fox hatch. The Grey Fox is a mayfly that looks like a smaller (size #14) version of the large March Brown (sizes #8 and #10). Despite their name, these flies are more of a cream/light tan color, rather than grey, with light brown markings on their legs. We are still seeing the large March Browns, usually when the sun warms the water, during the warmest time of the day, though a bit sporadically; and the Grey Foxes should continue on, also sporadically, thru mid-July. Various sizes of caddis flies and Blue-Winged-Olives round out the hatches that are occurring this week.