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Storms sweep through area with mixed impact to local waters

This time-lapsed radar image shows yesterday's massive storm sweep across the eastern United States.
This time-lapsed radar image shows yesterday's massive storm sweep across the eastern United States.NOAA / NWS

A big front swept through the Southern Tier last night, but impact to local waters is mixed. As of this morning, some rivers and creeks showed only small increases, while the big warmwater rivers have yet to crest. The Choconut Creek in Vestal, a tributary to the Susquehanna, was running gin clear and very low, as if no rain had hit the watershed. Owego Creek, on the other hand, was high and muddy.

The storm was part of a massive front that moved through last night. Rain, thunderstorms with lightning, and tornadoes were reported along with high winds. Rain varied by area but in general, the swift passage of the storm eastward ensured that the dwell of heavy rain in most areas was relatively short. As a result, rivers with the largest watersheds saw big increases in flows.

By this afternoon, many waters were receding or back to normal:

  • Lower Tioughnioga - the lower Tioughnioga crested earlier today and is receding. By the weekend it may be down to wadeable, fishable levels.
  • Lower Chenango - the Chenango River at Chenango Forks is still rising at 3,000 CFS (from a little more than 1,000 CFS a few days ago)
  • Upper Susquehanna (Windsor) - the upper Susky has crested at over 3,000 CFS and will need time to drop and clear for good fishing.
  • Lower Susquehanna (Vestal) - the Susky is still rising at 6,000 CFS. Don't count on it to be fishable for at least a week or two depending on weather.
  • West Branch of the Delaware River - the West is see-sawing up over 700 CFS and still rising, although it is reported to have just a little murk. The East Branch is also behaving pretty well and is actually dropping at 2,000 CFS.
  • Owego Creek - Owego Creek has crested and is dropping fast. As of this afternoon, it was still murky but should be fishable by tomorrow. Nanticoke Creek, ironically, is flowing nicely with good clarity.

It's a bit depressing for smallmouth anglers, that once again, the warmwater rivers are up. The only fishable warmwater this weekend will be the lower Tioughnioga and upstream. The Chemung River is another option. It appears to be unaffected by the recent rains according to the USGS gauge. Fortunately, the Catskill tailwaters are in good shape and will continue to provide good fishing for fly anglers. This may also be a good time to fish creeks with high flows. When flows increase and the water gets dirty, trout hear the feeding bell. Fly fishing a worm or nymph pattern in good trout habitat can pay off.