As the sun started to set behind the ridge, the end of my rod twitched and then descended into the water on the right side of the boat.
I grabbed my pole and set the hook. Line screamed from the reel and a large fish headed into the depths of the reservoir.
I was fishing below the Trout Creek Bridge on New York City’s Cannonsville Reservoir. It was several years ago when I kept a boat along the shore so I could fish there regularly. That night, I caught a 10-pound brown. Using a 14-foot noodle rod with 6-pound test line, I fought the fish for better than 20 minutes before easing it into the net.
The fishing was always good beneath that bridge. We often caught fish in the 5- to 7-pound class. The huge concrete piers and shadows created by the roadway structure overhead attracted the schools of sawbellies. They were the primary food for the brown trout that grew to enormous proportions. Seeing 20-pounders being pulled from the water were not that uncommon.
Many guys would fish late into the night. They’d hang a Coleman lantern off the side of the boat, which would attract the bait fish after dark. The trout would congregate below the schools of alewives to feed.
Back then, we had to go to Downsville to get a permit to fish the reservoirs. Our boats had to be inspected and left on the shore of the reservoir throughout the season. Motors were not permitted.
Today, that has changed. After the collapse of the Twin Towers, our “lifetime” permits were revoked.
In recent years, all you have to do to fish the reservoirs is go online, fill out an application and print out your permit. Boats also need a permit and must be steam-cleaned to protect New York’s drinking water from evasive species.