Storm Preparations


I took a look at the CFs on the major Croton streams to see how they were flowing after Tropical Storm Irene. Since the DEP controls water levels, I was thinking they were releasing a lot of water from the reservoirs into the outlets. That combined with the runoff, I expected it to be high…but not this high. Pretty dramatic differences.

– East Branch (Croton River just below dam): median CF = 63, right now, CF =2460 , gauge height, 7′ 3″ and falling
– Croton Falls Outlet (Croton River West Branch): median CF = 70, right now, CF = 430, gauge height, 6′ 6″ and falling
– Amawalk Outlet (Muscoot River): median CF = 19, right now, CF = 241, gauge height, 10′ 6″ and rising
– Titicus Outlet: median CF = 12, right now, CF = 2,180, gauge height, 8′ 7″ and peaking
– West Branch Outlet: median CF = 32, right now, 846, gauge height, 4’1″ and rising
– Cross River (in Ward Pound Ridge): median CF = 4, right now, 825, gauge height, 6′ 2″ and falling

The EB is 39X normal flow.  TO is 181x normal flow, but Cross River takes the prize at 206X normal flow!! :o

Seeing how Cross River has the only native brook trout population in the area, that’s quite worrying. On the other hand, the buildup of silt on all the rivers should be lower after the flooding, right?

For the heck of it–looked at the Esopus Creek up in the Catskills: median CF = 261, right now, CF =59,900, gauge height, 16′ 9″ but earlier was 21′. The Esopus is 229X its normal flow…I’d say that’s got to be a flood.

…I can’t begin to imagine the damage.


Wondering what a Category 3 might look like if it hit New York? Here is a vintage WPA film covering the great 1938 September hurricane, “Shock Troops of Disaster: The Story of the New England Hurricane.”

So with Hurricane Irene mozying up the coast, I really had just one thought in mind, “damn, what’s going to happen to the Amawalk?” The Croton Watershed, home to my three favorite trout streams, the East Branch, West Branch, and Amawalk, have had significant hurricane damage in the past. Even a casual nor’easter can cause erosion and treefall on these delicate riparian corridors. Naturally, I took Friday to join my fellow Gowanus Noodler, Daniel, to fish the east branch, the west and close the evening on the Amawalk. Just above the trestle bridge I had located a nice rising brown in a riffle and he took a copperish larvae under a dropper but wiggled off. Later at the West Branch Croton Falls Outlet,we noticed the water was up and fast–perhaps the DEP decided it would be a good idea to release some water ahead of the storm? There were some big trout holding under logs near the Route 22 bridge, but they wouldn’t be enticed–they were gorging on the larvae and bugs suddenly released from foam patches that had literally been hanging around all summer. It seemed the anglers down in “frustration pool” were doing no better.

CFO presented extremely challenging circumstances. It was frustrating to be unable to “match the hatch.” After an hour of beating the pool mercilessly, I just waded out into the middle and WOW, there were tons of bugs in the bubble line, many dead, but I counted at least 6 different kinds of bugs. In that case, I realized it would be impossible to determine exactly what the trout were eating. Though I had a few rises to a small caddis, no takes. I tried nymphing but had little response.

Daniel decided to stay and work the pool, but I bugged out for the Amawalk, which was luckily still at its usual flow. This old river has had mills on it since the 1800s, and the evidence remains, old dams, rock walls, the sunken forms of basements to cabins long since disintegrated. Brothers Falls Dam was glowing in the late day sun.

In a lovely setting sun, I began to watch a long glide come alive with rising trout. They were taking what looked to be termites and blue winged olives. I didn’t have a termite pattern and my caddis was refused twice, so I tied on the BWO and let it dead drift toward the lip. SLURP! A violent take and I had a lovely wild brown on. 12″, good for the Amawalk unless you’re night fishing, but wilds are muscular and sleek and he surged upstream twice and did a jump when he was close in. The sky was gold and pink, perhaps signaling the impending storm.

The pool slowly began to calm–the hatch only lasted about an hour. One more cast and another good-sized brown took my BWO and broke me off as he dove for cover. What a day, but I did have a restless sleep, I’m seriously worried about the hurricane’s affect on the rivers. Looks like the TU might have some work ahead of itself. Trout Unlimited often do streambank work, restoring damaged local waters–the Croton chapter is lovingly referred to as the “Rock Rollers,” and the twenty plus years of work is evident all through the watershed.

Now as the fist bands of showers descend on Brooklyn, I’m quite happy I live on Clinton HILL. The car is parked as high up as I could get it on Clinton Ave. Two of my fellow noodlers live near Red Hook, an evacuation area. Man, can you imagine if the Gowanus overflows? Yuck, but at least it might get “cleaned” out. Well, there’s ice in the fridge, candles at the ready…just need to nip out for batteries, and ground beef. I think Hurricane Irene deserves a good stew, just in case the power goes out, we’ll have something that can last a couple days in the cooler. After making the stew, we’ll tape up the windows and take the garden furniture in.  We’ll settle in and ride out the storm with cocktails and scrabble. Be safe everyone.