Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Strange Familiarity

The escape from Irene has weighed heavily on me. I did leave my family to go fishing and whilst one could certainly rationalize that I had a couple thousand dollars on the line one could easily argue the other way. Fortunately I have a resilient and resourceful spouse and boys who are finally of an age where they're very helpful with around the house stuff. More fortunately, everyone emerged from the storm without harm.

And the storms weren't finished with us. The remnants of Lee came north and dumped all manner of rain on an already soggy mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Our local streams got hammered but most of the big rain fell up north. That meant within a couple of days, the large rivers down here were testing their banks with both local and immigrant waters. These familiar waters were not themselves.

Saturday, we took a drive up the Housatonic to see the water. The normal drive is straight up Route 7 but we got detoured several times where water was still over the river or the road had been undermined. That was certainly new. And a river that fishes well around 800 cfs was rolling at around 12,000 cfs so now we have a sense of what to expect at those levels. One parking lot that normally holds a dozen cars was well under water; like up to the roofline underwater.

Fish on, Sand Hole. That red line is the water level in the
picture below.
11,000 cfs. Where's Sand Hole?
So seeing the large rivers in such bad shape I visited a small stream with the hope of some fishing. The stream gauge said I could wade it and a bridge crossing upstream showed me the water had cleared. Both good news from an angling perspective but this stream had been assaulted earlier this year with fairly significant changes.

I found a river that was where that other river was but it wasn't the same river. Straight lines were now curves thanks to fallen trees. Some deep parts were now filled with gravel and sand and the river now favored one side channel over her former main channel.

And the fish weren't where they used to be. I cast the flies that have worked in the past hoping that this new river would yield to the temptations but such was not the case. I got a few curious nibbles from fish who were likely half the size of the fly but nothing that resembled a real small stream trout.

This new river will take some time to figure out. In the spring a section downstream that was a delightful run was ruined changed by half a dozen trees that fell across the channel obstructing and diverting the waters. I haven't gone down there yet. Maybe this recent flood moved all those "bad" trees aside and now the run is restored. Perhaps the unintended consequences have cut my way. Maybe the fishing is good again, downstream, in this new river.

In that upper picture, the crown of a maple is sitting
smack in the middle of the pool with a beaver
nibbling on the branches. So much for rising trout.


  1. Wow...that photo comparison with the red line is amazing. I too hope that the damage will ultimately be restorative.

  2. Yeah, I was stunned to see the water lapping at the edge of the road. The water level was easily four or five feet above my head in the earlier picture.