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December 16, 2017
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Easy Access, Plentiful Fish: Fishing the Delaware’s tributaries

An avid angler fishes the Neversink Unique Area.
Greg Belcamino

By Greg Belcamino

You will find large trout rising on the Delaware and its East and West branches, but they’re fickle. Add to that the difficulty of access (unless you have a drift boat, pontoon boat or kayak, and can arrange a shuttle), and trying to catch a Delaware River trout can be, well, trying, even for accomplished anglers. Think patience, perfect presentation and having the right fly. One more thing: whether you can cast 30 or 80 feet, the fish are usually two feet beyond your best cast.

The Delaware’s three major tributaries, the Beaverkill, Willowemoc and Neversink, are much more angler-friendly, and while they may not have as many large trout as the big river, they’ve got plenty, and a few big ones.

The Beaverkill

You won’t find much public water above the town of Roscoe, NY (a/k/a Trout Town USA), so look for it from Roscoe down to the Beaverkill’s junction with the East Branch of the Delaware. Since the Beaverkill has such a rich fly-fishing history, and is so easily accessible, you’ll find that most of the pools are named, and that if you fish on a weekend or on a pleasant weekday, you’ll have plenty of company. Drive along Old Rte. 17, and you’ll find some place to slip into the river. Unless you’re an early riser, or the weather is inclement, avoid the most famous pools like Junction, Cairns and Cemetery.

You’ll want to avoid the lower end of the Beaverkill in hot weather (the trout migrate to colder water), and don’t fish when the water temperature is above 70 degrees. There may be closures around the cold-water refuges at creek mouths during July and August.

You’ll find just about every important eastern trout stream insect in the Beaverkill, and it’s said that if there’s a trout rising anywhere in the Catskills, it will be rising on the Beaverkill. Fish in the pools can be tough; maximize your chances—and minimize the company—by fishing the pocket water and riffles. You can improve your luck by fishing a nymph under your dry fly; swinging a soft-hackle fly through the riffles is always a good idea, whether you see fish rising or not. My go-to soft-hackle is a Partridge and Orange, size 14.

If you’re a confident wader, and know the water, fishing the Beaverkill at night can pay big dividends. I’d do it with a friend (and a head-lamp), using big wet flies that move a lot of water, or streamers. Don’t try to cast far; just cover the water methodically. Nice surprises await.