As part of the re-licensing requirements for the Fife Brook dam operated by Brookfield Renewable Partners, (BRP), a wading study was conducted on August 22nd, 23rd and 24th 2016 to determine the effect of three different releases on the safety of wading anglers. It is hoped that the information learned from this study will be used to develop modified flows that will enhance trout without creating additional wading risk.
This study was conducted on days when there was no scheduled whitewater release to provide sufficient time for anglers to travel to the locations identified by the working group and to wade/fish at those locations for 15 – 30 minutes at each location (as required by FERC’s Angler Wading Study). The sites selected by the Angler Wading Study Working Group included the following locations:
Fife Brook Fishing and Boating Access Area – Diamond Drill Hole
The Bridge to Nowhere Hole immediately downstream of the iron bridge
Zoar Picnic Area – Hole directly downstream from the steps to the water
Pelham Brook Hole
Study participants met at the Bear Swamp Visitors Center at 7 AM on August 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. BRP provided a shuttle to transport anglers to each of the fishing locations. The study lasted approximately 6 hours on each day (i.e., from 7 AM – 1 PM). and study participants evaluated one flow per day, with 125 cfs, 200 cfs, and 275 cfs flows scheduled for August 22nd, 23rd, and 24th respectively.
After wading at each location, participants were asked to complete survey forms developed in consultation with the Angler Wading Study Working Group. To allow for comparison across the different flows, BRP sought anglers who could participate in all 3 days of this study.
Deerfield River Watershed chapter members Chris Jackson and Mike Vito participated in at least one of the study days and Richard Smith participated in all three. Richard reported at the September 15, 2016 chapter meeting that the current minimum of 125 cfs was favorable and 200 cfs provided to be good as well. The highest flow on the third day, which was slightly in excess of 300 cfs, resulted in difficult wading on the upper river. Overall Richard felt that flow rates between 150 cfs to 200 cfs were favorable on the upper river while flows over 200cfs seemed to be favorable only on the lower river.