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West Branch flows and fishable water


Trout Hunter
Hi guys,

I wrote this about 10 years ago when I managed the Delaware River Club.

"How to Fish the West Branch at Various Flow Rates

200 – when the river drops below 200 cfs, floating is not possible and wading is easy. Fish the areas of moving water as the slow pools can get difficult. The lower stretches can get warm on sunny days.

200-400 – This is a nice level as wading is easy and there is enough flow to keep the river moving. Floating can mean a lot of dragging too. Look for fish in the tails of riffs and in the deeper stretches of pools. Lower stretches can warm up on hot, sunny summer days,

400-700 – Great wading and floating along the entire river. The whole river stays cool and usually fishes nicely. Look for active fish throughout the system.

700-1000 – This level is the best of both worlds. There is plenty of water to float and you can wade the river nearly everywhere. At this level look for fish out of the main current.

1000-1500 – At this level floating comes into its own. Wading is still possible in some areas, but floating is easy and gives you the ability to reach all working fish. You start to find fish along the banks at this level. The fish will look for slower water in which to position themselves.

1500-2500 – the river really changes at this level. Wading is really not possible, but floating the river can yield really nice fishing. Fish can be caught on streamers and you need to find surface feeding fish along the banks and back eddies. At this level big browns can be active during the day and will take streamers.

2500+ - At this level floating is possible and fishing can be good. Wading in not possible and is dangerous. Streamers cast to the banks will take fish. Dry fly action is limited."

I think it is still generally true, but I would make a couple of minor changes to it now. Perhaps since I am older (but certainly not wiser), the higher flows that I suggest are wadeable, I would probably reduce somewhat.

As far as wade vs float.

I think that there is the most fish holding water for wade fisherman at about 400-600. This is defined as water that holds fish and is reachable by wading. I might push this to 700 if pressed.

I think that there is the most fish holding water for drift fisherman at about 700-1200. This is defined as water that holds fish and is reachable by floating.

Under 300 the fish really start to move to sanctuary type water and concentrtate. This decreases the amount of water that is fishable (holds fish and is accessible), but the fish become more concentrated.

Above 1200 the fish tend to move out of the faster water and toward the banks. This probably decreases the total amount of water that is fishable (holds fish and is accessible), but the fish become more concentrated.

Last year during the season the flow at Hale Eddy was above 1000 about 42% of the time.

Temperature, as we all know, is cetainly important too. Up near Depsoit the fish become acclimated to the cooler water so water temps above 45 degrees will probably be okay, although a minimum of 50 degrees seems to be my magic number. 70 degrees and falling is the upper limit that fishing seems to still be okay. There seems to be a switch that turns the fish off at 70 degrees. This is for self protection I am sure. Best to move elsewhere if temps approach 70 degrees.

Just my opinion.

Hey Jim,
Do you know what the erratic flows yesterday on the EB and WB were about?
Didnt look line any ramping going on especially over on the EB.
Hi Brachy,

I just returned from the first DRBC flood mitigation task force public meeting.

We need to make sure that with al the talk of flooding that the rivers and recreation are not forgotten. This whole process can be win/win for all and we need to make sure that happens. IT would be nice if there is someone willing to go to each of the other meetings and represent the fish and rivers.

To answer your question; DEP started to drop the releases as per the temporary spill plan. The reservoirs had dropped below 95%, but they realized that there was just enough snowpack to bring them back over 95% so it was delayed by a day or two. There is about 11 billion gallons of snowpack above the reservoirs.

I think you will start to see the releases ramped down over the next 3 days unless we get a big storm (not predicted).

If anyone can make any of the other flood meetings, I can help you prepare a statement. Is is important!!!!

Let me know,