Looks like we will not be going out to fish for awhile as the rain is here and the wind which has the Creek filled with leaves
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Talk about cold early, it sure is cold outside now. I just heard that it snowed in Rochester, NY (just down the road from here) this AM and it was the earliest it had ever done that.
I would say it is a very good time to stay inside and tie flies,cause as they say “ the more you tie the better your flies” or at least I say that :)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I and my wife drove up to Manchester VT. for the long weekend, we did the tourist thing and looked at stores etc.
I figured I’d cast a few flies on the Battenkill on the NY State side on our way home, well low and behold when we got up Monday I had to spend about a half hour or so scraping the ice off the SUV. At that point I said no way am I going to stand in that cold water. On the way home we looked at the River and saw one guy FF and he had on a heavy wool cap and heavy wool gloves. I had no winter gear with me so home we came.
I did buy a new hip pack at a fly shop up in Middlebury its a Fishpond, I think I will like it when I get to try it :)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
by Floyd Franke
The enchanted circle of the New York Catskills is steeped in fly fishing history and remains as popular today as it was a hundred years ago. Located just three hours driving distance from downtown Manhattan, the area has managed to retain much of its rural charm. Small villages, wooded hillsides, and babbling brooks dot the landscape. The brooks merge to become the creeks and rivers of the Enchanted Circle.
With a geographical center near Claryville and a radius of approximately 30 miles, the circle includes the:
- Beaverkill River
- Willowemoc Creek
- East Branch of the Delaware River
- Esopous Creek
- Schoharie Creek
- Neversink River
The cold, clear waters of the Enchanted Circle’s upper reaches tumble over rocky runs, around gravel bars and deadfalls, and through deep pools that harbor wild brook trout, small in size but eager to take a fly. An angler with a short 7- to 8-foot, 3-weight rod, a dozen size-14 Royal Wulffs, and a sense of adventure will find peace here.
Those who seek more open space but still like being able to cast to the far bank will find themselves at home on the Schoharie, Willowemoc, or Neversink. The equipment of choice for these waters is a 9-foot, 4-weight rod.
The lower sections of the Beaverkill, Esopous, and East Branch of the Delaware are favored by those who like the challenges of big water, wading deep, and making long casts.
The town of Roscoe at the junction of the Beaverkill and Willowemoc makes a good base camp for those wishing to fish the southern half of the circle. Named by the Federation of Fly Fishers as A Trout Town USA, it hosts three fly shops, five restaurants, and three motels. Its location offers ready access to the Beaverkill and Willowemoc along Old Route 17. The East Branch of the Delaware lies a short 20-minute drive to the west on the future I-86, the present Route 17. The Neversink lays to the east, a 35-minute drive away. The town of Phoenicia, located near the top of the circle, offers similar services to those fishing the Esopous and Schoharie.
The Beaverkill, the best known of all the Catskills rivers, offers 13 miles of public access from the Route 206 Bridge downstream to the confluence of the East Branch. The upper Beaverkill, the portion of river above the Route 206 Bridge, is private with two exceptions. The first is the 2 miles of river flowing through the state-owned Beaverkill Campground. The second is a short 200-yard section of river that begins approximately 50 yards upstream of the Cragie Claire Bridge.
The Beaverkill is stocked each spring with nearly 25,000 brown trout stocked. Most are between 8 and 9 inches long, but the river holds larger fish as well. Given several summers of good water flows and cool weather, it can produce an excellent population of fish in the 16-to-18 inch range. This can be attributed to the abundant insect life that the river holds. In the catch-and-release sections, where the survival rate is highest, 20-inch fish are not that uncommon.
In addition to brown trout, an ever-increasing number of wild rainbows make their way up the river from the Delaware. Although the majority of fish taken are from the spring stocking, approximately 25 percent are stream bred or holdovers.
The Willowemoc, the sister river of the Beaverkill, begins in the mountains near the village of the same name. It flows west through the village of De Bruce and town of Livingston Manor until it joins the Beaverkill near Roscoe. The creek can be divided into three sections. The upper reach is small brook trout water with limited access along Route 82. The section from the Parkston Bridge downstream to Livingston Manor becomes bigger with the increased flow of several tributaries and offers good fishing for a mix of brooks and browns. The river continues to grow in size with the addition of a significant volume of waters from the Little Beaverkill, which enters at Livingston Manor.
By the time the Willowemoc joins with the Beaverkill in Roscoe, its flow is greater than that of the Beaverkill. But a cruel act of geology robbed the Willowemoc of its name beyond the confluence of the two rivers, as the Beaverkill was found to be the older of the two.
This lower section of the Willowemoc, between Livingston Manor and the Junction Pool near Roscoe, receives the greatest fishing pressure. As with the Beaverkill, the lower Willowemoc receives an annual stocking of 8- to 9-inch brown trout. Although the number of fish stocked is lower (about 13,000), fewer anglers fish the Willowemoc than the Beaverkill. When deciding between the two rivers, one must choose between the quiet solitude and slower pace of the Willowemoc or the more crowded conditions but generally bigger fish of the Beaverkill.
Schoharie Creek, located at the top of the Enchanted Circle, has its beginnings in the mountain valleys lying to the northwest of the village of Saugerties. The collected waters flow through hemlocks forests to the village of Hunter, beyond which point the valley widens and the forest begin to fade. The 18-mile section from Hunter to the village of Prattsville receives an annual stocking of 15,000 browns. It is this section that is of greatest interest to fisherman.
Unfortunately, the temperature of the water rises quickly in summer. The best fishing occurs during the early months of spring or in September and October at the confluence of its three major tributaries: the Batavia Kill, West Kill, and East Kill.
The same warming that serves to shorten the season also reduces the number of holdovers to just 5 percent. The Schoharie is slowly losing its battle with humans’ ever-growing demands for more water for residential use. Below Prattsville the river enters the Schoharie Reservoir and becomes a warm water fishery.
Summer warming, although not as great as on the Schoharie, affects all the freestone waters of the Enchanted Circle. It is best to avoid the hotter summer months when daytime water temperatures can rise above 70 degrees, a temperature above which conservation-minded anglers refrain from fishing.
Fortunately the circle includes three tailwater fisheries that offer excellent fishing in the heat of the summer or when rains swell the freestone rivers over their banks.
Sections of the East Branch of the Delaware, the Esopous, and the Neversink are tailwater fisheries, receiving cold-water releases from upstream reservoirs.
Of these three, the East Branch of the Delaware is technically the most difficult. The usually minimal water releases from the Pepacton Dam produce a spring-creek-like environment for 15 miles, from the dam to its joining with the Beaverkill near the village of East Branch. There is plenty of vegetation, long, slow pools, and crystal clear water. The 9,500 brown that are stalked annually are small, usually less than ten inches, but there are big fish to be found as well.
Your casts, however, had better be accurate. One chance may be all you will get. A fumbled cast or splashy misstep can send the fish scurrying for cover and the angler to the comfort of the bank. It will be some time before the fish resume feeding.
Below the junction with the Beaverkill, the water warms as the river winds its way westward to the town of Hancock and its meeting with the West Branch to form the Delaware, or “Big D” as it is known locally. The section between East Branch and Hancock offers good fishing in the spring and fall months.
Esopous Creek is the second tailwater fishery of the Enchanted Circle. It lies to the southeast of the Schoharie near the top of the circle. The creek itself is divided into two sections. The section above the Shandaken Tunnel or “portal” is classic trout water, a free-flowing mountain stream with pools and riffles in abundance. The scenery is beautiful, the pace relaxed, and the trout, mostly browns, eager. The section below the tunnel is a tailwater fishery, transformed by the cold water releases from the Schoharie reservoir.
In recent years, this water has been ladened with silt. This makes little difference to the hundreds of tubers who come to ride the portal’s flow, but to fly fishers the silt is a major concern. The water is so off color at times as to make fly fishing difficult and detract from the natural beauty of the area.
The wild rainbow trout that inhabit this lower section tend to run small in size, but a chance encounter with one of the big spawning rainbows that migrate up from the Ashokan reservoir can bring you back time and time again. Although usually fished using a wet fly, the heavy hatches of Isonychia can produce exciting dry-fly action.
The Neversink River, the third tailwater fishery within the Enchanted Circle, lies south of the Esopous, near the town of Fallsburg. Once the favorite haunt of pioneer fly fishermen such as Theodore Gordon, George La Branch, and Edward Ringwood Hewitt, much of the river they fished lies at the bottom of today’s Neversink Reservoir. However, fishermen today can enjoy the Neversink’s tailwaters, which run from the dam almost 40 miles to the town of Port Jervis, where they join the Delaware. The section from the dam to Cuddybackville, almost 30 miles of river, holds wild brook trout and stocked browns, about 1,000 of them.
The best fishing is from Hasbrouck Bridge downstream to where the Neversink passes under Route 17 near Bridgeport. Road access to this section of the river is good. Use Hasbrouck Drive to fish north of the village of Woodbourne. To fish south of Woodbourne, use Route 42 to the town of South Fallsburg, and then follow local roads as far as Route 17.
Below the Route 17 Bridge, the river begins its decent through the 5,000-acre Neversink Gorge Unique Area. The gorge offers the opportunity to fish water seen only by the few who are willing and able enough to make the 2-hour hike into its depths. Few paths follow the river, and the going gets difficult at times. Most of the fish encountered are wild, a mix of brooks and browns.
Enchanted Circle hatches are predictable and at times prolific. The Hendrickson hatch in April is a personal favorite, but nothing can match the hatches of March Browns, Grey Foxes, and Green Drakes that come off the Willowemoc and Beaverkill during “Bug Week,” usually the first week of June.
The Catskills gave birth to dry-fly fishing in America and the classic fly patterns it inspired are still favored. Art Flick’s The New Streamside Guide to Naturals and Their Imitations is recommended reading for anyone planning to fish the Catskills, but especially for those planning to fish the Schoharie. It was here that Flick did his research on the waters he called home.
The most popular rod for use on the waters of the circle is an 8 1/2 to 9 foot, 5 weight rod. Those fishing the smaller upper sections of its rivers would find a 7 foot, 3 or 4 weight easier to handle in the tight quarters. Conversely, a 9 or 9 1/2 foot, 6 weight rod would be an advantage in overcoming both the greater casting distances and the windy conditions encountered on sections of the lower rivers. – Floyd Franke