State to bar fishing in Upper Esopus Creek
SHANDAKEN >> The state Department of Environmental Conservation has asked anglers not to fish in the Upper Esopus Creek in Ulster County due to muddy water and the creek’s low level, and the agency says a formal ban is forthcoming.
The affected area is “from Shandaken Portal to Ashokan Reservoir” because “low, muddy water may affect trout spawning,” the department tweeted and said on its website.
The muddy water has been entering the creek from the New York Cityowned Schoharie Reservoir by way of the portal.
The formal ban is expcted within a few days, and there was no immediate word on whether it might be lifted before the fishing season ends Nov. 30.
Water typically is sent from the Schoharie Reservoir to the creek to supplement the creek’s natural flow and help maintain its trout population. This year, though, drought conditions have reduced water levels in the Schoharie dramatically, and the portal has been funneling highly turbid, chocolate-colored water into the Upper Esopus. And the water level in the creek is expected to drop further, reducing aquatic habitat.
With these issues combined, the Department of Environmental Conservation fears fish in the Esopus Creek could be more vulnerable than usual to anglers and natural predators and worries the abnormally high amount of turbidity will hurt the stream’s ecosystem and trout spawning, which begins soon.
So the state agency told the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to reduce the amount of water sent from the Schoharie Reservoir into the Upper Esopus.
Adam Bosch, a spokesman for the city department, said the state is calling the shots.
“We’re operating under the direction of DEC,” he said.
Bosch said the city department has a permit from state agency to send the water into the Esopus, but the state regulates the flow.
Calling the Schoharie Reservior is “empty” due to the lack of rain, Bosch said, for fish, sending some muddy water into the Esopus is better than sending no water at all. Cutting off the Schoharie flow would reduce the Esopus to a level even more dangerous, he said.
This map shows where fishing is to be banned.
Muddy water is shown in the Upper Esopus Creek in Ulster County.