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February 09, 2016
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A new toy and flow frustrations

You might recall how I mentioned in my column of May 10 that while fishing in Lordville, NY on the West Branch of the Delaware River, I had taken an involuntary swim. I had not been wading for 10 minutes when my hips and legs went numb and down I went. This caused me to write that I needed to figure out a way to avoid this sort of problem in the future. Sooner or later, one of these frequent spills (12 in the last three years) would result in injuring myself, or my bamboo fly rod. I spent time looking through fishing catalogs for an answer to my problem. I found several, yet none seemed to be the complete answer to my troubles. For years, I have owned an inflatable raft made by Big Sky Inflatables. It is however, too large to solve my wading problems. While we were in Texas, it occurred to me to contact the company to see if they made a “junior model.” To my delight, I discovered that they did indeed make such a raft. I wrote them a letter describing how I wished to use a smaller model. They assured me that they could produce an inflatable that would be the answer to my problems.

Last Wednesday, I received a phone call telling me that my raft had been shipped and should arrive by the 9th or 10th of July. From their brief, over-the-phone description of their smaller product, it seems it will be the perfect answer for this ancient angler. It might even help to get Barbara Ann wading in rivers again. Fear of falling and fracturing a hip has limited her to a few areas where she can cover water from the bank. Oh boy, oh boy, I can’t wait for the new raft to be delivered. If it works as I hope, there will not be a trout in the Delaware drainage that can consider itself safe. Yeah, yeah, I know, it would help if all of my flies were not poorly tied. Yes, and I suppose if I could learn to cast 30 feet without producing macramé work in my leader, the trout would be swimming in more dangerous water. Ah well, who is perfect?

One who certainly is not perfect is Mr. Thomas Murphy of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Ha! That title is a monumental misnomer. He attended a meeting of the Upper Delaware Council unprepared to explain to the peasants why New York City is rejecting the flow proposals put forth by Professor Peter Kolesar, Jim Serio et al., when Anne Willard asked him if he had the data on the “amount of water available for downstream users,” he could only reply that “the City of New York has always believed that there is not enough water to thermally maintain the Main Stem of the Delaware.” He had no data to back up that assertion. When pressed, he lamely stated, that “the Rivermaster had the data.” Murphy claimed that in one year out of the last five, 2010, almost all of the water for thermal stress had been used. (Don’t believe a word of it.) In fact, even in that drought year, water that could have been available for thermal relief went unused.* [See editor’s note below.]

These days it seems as if there is a lawyer hiding behind every tree ready to sue on behalf of anyone offended by some innocuous remark. It is clear that New York City does not intend to deliver to the river its fair share of water as indicated by the original Supreme Court decree. We are left with only one choice: take the City of New York to court to force it to live up to the original decree.

[*EDITOR’S NOTE: The data show that in 2010, after accounting for the Flexible Flow Management Plan’s base table releases, around 30% of the Interim Excess Release Quantity—water available for a variety of “extraordinary needs,” including thermal stress—was unused.]