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When the rain reins in all hopes of fishing: PAWS

Tangled Lines

Going into the Labor Day weekend, I regret to announce I am suffering from PAWS.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, that is.

Owing to an unfortunate concatenation of events — namely, the weather — I have not wet a line in two weeks.

So while I am past the trembling, the hot flashes and cold shivering, the hallucinations and the uncontrollable sweating, I am listless, irritable and nihilistic.

Grumpy, too.

The good news is the fact that it was 58 degrees in Lakeville this morning, Sept. 2. One thing we can count on around here: Right around Labor Day, things cool off.

It is important to remember that trout do not do well at water temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. My personal feeling is anything over 66 is out of bounds, but I am hidebound and reactionary. 

Why is this? The short version: The higher the water temperature, the lower the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. 

It’s not that they can’t survive the higher temps. They can and do. 

It’s that if you catch them, even if you play them fast and get them back in the water with the absolute minimum of handling, they are very likely to die when they have trouble doing basic things, like breathing.

Keeping all this in mind, here is the fall 2021 plan:

The Housatonic 

The river has been unusually high this summer, and that means the trout have had more and better options for making it through the high water temperatures. It’s flowing at a hearty 5,800 cfs this morning (Sept. 2), but when things calm down in a week or two (emphasis on the latter), there will be a lot of trout coming out of the doldrums and looking for dinner. That’s in addition to the smallmouth bass.

The Farmington

A weird year on this river as well, notably in the lack of cold water coming out of the dam above Riverton. That unhappy situation will begin to revert to normal as air temperatures drop. My best guess is around the third week of September we will see a significant improvement in Farmington water temperatures, and be back in business.

Little blue lines

If you don’t have a water thermometer, get one. Last week, I was confronted with the unbelievably exasperating fact that one of my main small streams had plenty of nice clear water coursing through. Never mind fishing — I just wanted to sit in it. It would have been quite pleasant, too, as my thermometer revealed the water was between 76 and 80 degrees. Now, that was in a bottom reach, exposed to more sunlight than the mountainous areas upstream. But still.

But I’ll keep an eye on the small streams and wait for the moment when the trend is reversed.


After being humbled by the East Branch of the Delaware River (in New York)  a few weeks back, I feel there is unfinished business there. And I am going to finish it. But next time I am going to go with someone who knows it, to minimize the floundering.

Chesterfield Gorge, East Branch, Westfield River (Mass.)

I’ve been reading about this for years, and this could be the time to go check it out. Plus there’s a tailwater section below the Knightsbridge dam, wherever that is.

That’s the general plan. Which is, of course, subject to sudden change. 

But I feel much better just thinking about it.

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