CATSKILLS: Trout Capital
The Catskill Mountains of southeastern New York are home to world-famous trout waters: Esopus and Willowemoc Creeks and the Neversink, Beaverkill, and Delaware Rivers. A few hours’ drive from New York City, these freestone waters can be crowded in April and May, but from late June through October, you can fish in solitude. Catskill rivers produce healthy populations of wild brown and rainbow trout (supplemented in most streams by stocking). First-time visitors should focus on the Beaverkill-Willowemoc and Delaware systems.
The Beaverkill and Willowemoc come together at Roscoe. The Willowemoc offers nearly 7 miles of public water from Livingston Manor downstream to Roscoe, and the Beaverkill’s 15 miles below Roscoe are all public and easily wadable.
The lower East Branch of the Delaware has good holding water, but many sections are deep and difficult to wade. Summer releases from Cannonsville Reservoir keep the more popular West Branch, famous for its prolific mayfly hatches, running high and cold during dog days.
The 27 miles of main-stem Delaware from Hancock to Callicoon are famous for big rainbows and browns, and they are all wild fish. The “Big D” boasts the sweep and size of a blue-ribbon Western river, but walk-in access is limited-better to explore it by drift boat. Fishing is tough: The typical fisherman averages one trout every five hours, and hiring a guide is recommended. Trout are selective during hatches but at other times will take generic patterns like the Parachute Adams and bead-head Prince Nymph and Hare’s Ear. The river also sports a bountiful spring run of American shad.
For more information, contact the Sullivan County Visitors Association (800-882-CATS; www.scva.net/outdoor/fishing/fishing.html).