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Old 03-12-2017, 09:00 AM
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Default Housatonic 2017 preview

The Housatonic River got so low last year that it was more like someone's rock garden with a little stream in the middle.

In my capacity as trout reporter for the Lakeville Journal, I asked DEEP's Mike Humphreys what the outlook was like for this year. Here is his response:


"Conditions in 2016 were the worst I’ve seen. Record low flows continued into mid-November. My electronic water temperature loggers showed the most days (63) with short-term lethal temperatures (over 80 o F) that I’ve ever seen in the river; also the warmest I’ve ever seen, 88.7 o F. For much of the summer, and into the fall, the only locations where trout could survive were in the “thermal refuges” at cold tributary stream mouths. I checked these thermal refuges where no fishing is allowed, regularly through the summer, initially finding hundreds of trout packed into these small cold areas. During the course of the summer, trout numbers declined steadily, mostly due to bird predation and shrinking tributary flows, until most refuges no longer had any trout present despite the continued lethal temps in the main stem of the river. The one exception was Furnace Brook Thermal Refuge, where it appeared that hundreds of large trout, up to 24 inches, rode out the extended bad summer, and survived to swim away once the river temps finally returned to trout-friendly levels. Mill Brook Refuge, just above the covered bridge, actually went dry for the first time that I have ever seen. This refuge usually carries some trout through the summer, but not in 2016. Work is done every spring by volunteers, to enhance the refuge at Furnace Brook mouth. Plans are underway to improve Mill Brook Refuge in the near future. Trout Unlimited, Housatonic Fly Fisherman’s Association, DEEP, and others are collaborating to construct a better pool right at the mouth of Mill Brook, where more cold water will accumulate before mixing with the warm river. In 2016, the DEEP commissioner actually made an emergency declaration to extend the “closed-to-fishing” period at refuges, to October 1 due to the continued presence of trout in the Furnace Refuge beyond the usual Sept 15 end of the prohibition. So some big “holdover” trout made it through the summer, primarily at Furnace Refuge, but overall trout survival through the summer was much less than usual, perhaps as few as a couple hundred. But that said, fishing should still be pretty good this spring. As is standard procedure, we stocked approximately 6,000 trout last fall, some over 14”. With the relatively mild winter many of these fish should still be around in the early spring. We will stock approximately 9,000 more in late April, so angling quality should be good. What will be missing will be some of the largest multi-year holdovers."
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Old 03-13-2017, 09:40 AM
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Default Re: Housatonic 2017 preview

Some good news tucked into the bad. I've fished the Housatonic in that area a couple of times and it's hard to believe the water could get that low. I've also fished Furnace, talk about some tight water. Glad to hear it's on its way back to normal. Time to start planning another visit to my sister in laws.

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