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.
This year, the Cannonsville Electric Trolling Motor Pilot Program was put into effect. Electric trolling motors can be used on rowboats and jon-boats for fishing. Twelve-volt batteries must be in containers and secured in the boat in case of capsizing.
Kayaks, canoes and small sailboats also can be used for recreational purposes on the Cannonsville, Pepacton, Schoharie and the Neversink Reservoirs until Columbus Day. All crafts must be steam-cleaned at a DEP-approved site. Kayaks must be at least 9 feet in length and all other boats must be at least 11feet, 6 inches long. PFDs are required for all occupants.
Check out the total regulations on the web before heading out on the water. Get out there and enjoy the city’s reservoirs. They are very beautiful, unpopulated and hardly used.
Catskill Forest historian Dr. Mike Kudish, from Paul Smith’s College, will talk about the unique peat bogs near the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain and the connection of forest fires and railroads in the Catskills at 11 a.m. Saturday at the summit of Balsam Lake Mountain. A hike to one of the nearby bogs will follow the presentation. In the event of a rainout, his presentation will be held Sunday.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at email@example.com.