Esopus Creek CLOSED to fishing: This afternoon we received the message below from Region 3 NYS DEC. On a personal note, I'd like to add that both Brook Trout and Brown Trout are spawning NOW - since September - and furthermore, fishing on the upper Esopus ABOVE the portal should also be suspended in these dire low water conditions to help protect those trout that are trying to spawn!

Here is the notice from the DEC:

Anglers: Please don't fish the Esopus Creek from the Shandaken Portal down to the Ashokan Reservoir right now.

If you live near, or fish the upper reach of the Esopus Creek (see map below), you probably have noticed that the water level has dropped and the creek has become brown with suspended sediment.

Normally, water from the Schoharie Reservoir enters the Esopus via the Shandaken Portal, supplementing the natural flow of the creek and helping to maintain its trout population.

Unfortunately, drought has reduced water levels in the Schoharie Reservoir and the portal has been bringing highly turbid (sediment laden) water into the Esopus. DEC Fisheries staff are concerned that this turbid water will hurt the stream ecosystem and trout spawning, which begins soon. In response, we have reduced the amount of water from the Schoharie Reservoir to the Esopus.

Water levels in the Esopus will drop further, drastically reducing aquatic habitat. Fish in the Esopus Creek could be very vulnerable to anglers and natural predators. Nonetheless, DEC Fisheries staff believe the trout population will be better off than if the trout try to spawn in mud-laden water.

DEC will continue to monitor the flow, water turbidity, and the stream ecosystem. We ask that anglers do not fish the Esopus Creek from the portal down to the Ashokan Reservoir during these stressful conditions.

Emergency regulations will soon temporarily prohibit fishing downstream of the portal. We’ll let you know when this happens.

As reported a few days ago in the chapter’s October newsletter, the Schoharie Reservoir is at 7% capacity and shearing mud from the bottom of a dry reservoir bottom. Our rivers and creeks are extremely low due to very dry conditions. The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) reports that several USGS gages on the Esopus Creek watershed are recording historically low flows. With brown trout spawning season upon us, DEC Fisheries has taken hard measures to protect the redds of spawning brown trout, while trying to protect wild trout from excessive turbidity and angler predation. Please heed the above warnings, soon to be emergency regulations.