October 1 – Sunday –
We actually met at Croton Falls, on Rt. 22. It was a cleanup of the river’s lower East Branch organized by the Croton Chapter of TU who are its designated stewards. Peter Dubno had tried to organize a clean-up for LITU but ran into issues with local jurisdictions. It seems that residents have to pay for trash collection or bring it to the dump. Some residents consider the roadside a dump to avoid any fees. Sad. So we join our sister chapter for a day of giving back to the river.
We meet Frank DeGrazio and Les Gulitz, put on our waders, and head up river. There isn’t much trash by the river but a lot on the road. We accumulate a few bags to add to the pile.
It occurs to me today that when I first started working, an early job was at Nassau Community College as a maintenance man. I wore a blue uniform and often was assigned to pick up trash along the roads while my peers were walking to class or flirting with the girls. That was difficult. We also cleaned the trash from the roadway that wound its way through the old Mitchell Field air strip to the south – no buildings were there yet: No coliseum or hotel or north campus of Hofstra. The boss told us that the last time it was cleaned one guy found a $5 bill. This kept me focused on searching for every piece of trash. $5 was a lot of money.
Now I cheerfully walk the roadside with bag and rake, picking the cups, cans, papers and plastic the citizens discard. It’s a better time of life in that regard.
Afterwards Peter and I go to the Smoke House restaurant for a BBQ lunch with the sweetest cornbread in the Hudson Valley, or so they say…and it is delicious. We tour the junction and the West Branch up to the reservoir. All looks nice; a Westchester stream has rocks and falls and current. It could be a mountain stream although it is not. The rocks have a fair share of goop on them and the bottom is a silty brown. Still it’s a beautiful watershed with lots of deep fish holding pools and we are lucky to have it.
Fishing season is closed as of October 1 except for the East Branch above some point near Borden’s Bridge in Brewster. We head to the “Bathtub” by Sodom Dam of the East Reservoir. I had fished this area and the bridge before with Peter. In fact, it is the only section I have ever fished on the Croton which is an extensive network of dams and connecting streams.
There are fish, trout. Hold overs from the stockings and perhaps a few naturally reproducing. Frank mentioned that they run up from the junction of the East and West Branches on occasion to spawn. There are also other fish. I know there are sunnies and suckers because that is all I have caught here. Peter knows the place well and is an extraordinary fisherman. He had a number of trout along with his share of warm water species. He did his best to guide me into a catch, providing flies and advice. It was a beautiful fall day to be casting a fly.
It was a good day with a good friend.
I don’t come here much. The trip and the bridges and the traffic are the main reasons but also there are only so many hours in a life to fish and I enjoy the Island’s spring creeks and NY’s mountains, be they Catskill or Adirondack, and of course the salt. That is not to say that you shouldn’t give the Croton a try if you haven’t already. Nick Lyons cut his trout fishing teeth here, taking the train up from the City on opening day as a kid. Reading of his exploits make being here that much more interesting. Check out the Reading Room for his books.
Guide is available through the Croton Chapter of TU.