(Note: The USGS gauge showed flows between about 45 and 75 cfs for May 11-12.)
I opened up in Pantherkill the weekend of May 11-12. The Saturday was wet but warm. Sunday started the same but cleared up into sunny, blustery, and damn chilly out there in the elements.
Starting at the downstream end of the stocked section:
Gillespie/Botchford pool. The landscape has shifted again, quite significantly. The left bank is higher, and much more of the shelf formation is exposed.
Downstream last year's gently descending runs are now sharper, deeper plunge pools, running into yet another deep shelf and tailout.
Upstream those flats where trout used to lurk are gone.
All in all the pool proper is deeper and wider, and probably easier to fish. On Saturday, however, I could not scare up anything from the greenish depths.
Upstream from here are lots of riffles and the occasional pool with tailout. I also found this tantalizing pool, which you'll notice has water running into it from different angles. I got one to flash at a Prince nymph in here.
Don't ignore the skinny water. I almost stepped on a couple of browns in the 16 inch range messing around in the riffles, which are deeper than they look.
Up by Nakamoto's, the stream is trying its best to get to the road, the better to flood it, I suppose. So last year, where all this was flat as a lumpy pancake, the water has spread out some. Again, remember what I said about skinny water.
Downstream Mother Nature has thoughtfully knocked this tree right across the stream, creating a truly trouty situation. I got two nice holdovers to flash me in here, and hooked one, but lost him. You live by the barbless hook, and so do they.
Fishable water getting closer to the house here. And speaking of which, as you proceed up the right bank you'll see a long, deep run, which will be the place to put on a nymphing clinic.
I finally switched to a two-fly rig, with a Stimulator I bought in Portland, Ore. some years back for use in the Deschutes, and a Copper John underneath. I guess I didn't de-barb these as well, or maybe my knack was coming back. Perhaps it was the cigars. Anyway, this silly but feisty brown attacked the Stimulator out of this little run.
Last year this bit before the Low and High Roads out of the Roxmor pool converge was a veritable swimming hole, complete with sandy beach. This year it is another piece of extended pocket water ideal for nymphing. These two healthy browns came from this stretch. Bear in mind the wide-angle lens and the large landing net (suitable for giant squid) before you sneer at my 14-inch estimate.
The Roxmore pool is about the same, as are the runs and plunge pools above.
Up here it gets interesting again. The left bank, which was piled high last year, is flat. The water is skinny until you get to a long pool. By that pointy rock (lower right in second photo) I got an honest 16-incher.
The Iron Wall is sagging, but at least the water is back over there now.
The approach to Red Rock. Fish the tailout first — I saw a couple of browns that looked like torpedoes messing around in there when I stupidly waded right in for a better angle at the prevailing drift, which runs over to the retaining wall and circles back. Lots of fish still in here.
Red Rock is as far as I got this trip.
My "Avenge" hat has Panther Vision — two little lights under the brim. It makes me feel very vengeful, in a feline way.
On Sunday the Portal releases on the Esopus looked like crap, which seems to be the new normal.
One good thing — on Saturday it rained off and on all day until it really poured at about 4 p.m. I knocked off then and had a late lunch.
But by 6 p.m. I got bored and curious so I went out again. The Pantherkill was already running clear almost to the junction with Woodland, which was itself noticeably better than it had been two hours earlier.
This happy situation ended abruptly with a really torrential downpour at 7:30 p.m. or so. I figured fishing would be out for Sunday, but no. Woodland was actually clearer than it had been the day before.
So despite the exposed banks and other damage we see regularly, the streams seem to be healing themselves pretty well.