Fly fishing enthusiasts flock to New York thanks to the Catskills and Adirondacks. Some claim that New York has the finest fly-fishing in the eastern United States because of its clean streams and lakes, which are excellent for trout fishing.
Some of the best places to fly fish in New York include:
- AuSable River
- Beaverkill River
- Cattaraugus Creek
- Chateauguay River
- Chittenango Creek
- Delaware River
- Neversink River
- Salmon River and more
New York's Catskill region is home to many world-famous trout streams, such as the Beaverkill and Willowemoc Creeks. The Catskills are also home to the legendary Esopus Creek, which is considered one of the best wild trout streams in the country. This article will explore all 22 of the best fly fishing destinations in all of New York and what flies to use at each location.
Best Fly Fishing locations in New York
Fly fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of locations to enjoy their sport in New York. The state has more than 70,000 miles of streams and rivers, as well as nearly 7,600 freshwater lakes and ponds. Many of these bodies of water are stocked with trout each year, making them ideal for fly fishing.
1. AuSable River, West Branch
The Ausable River is a river that flows through New York state from the Adirondack Mountains to Lake Placid and Au Sable Forks before emptying into Lake Champlain. The East and West branches combine at Au Sable Forks.
The West Branch is currently catch-and-release only for a large portion of its length, with artificial lures permitted. It is open all year. The Ausable River Association strives to promote conservation and has installed wader wash stations along the river throughout the summer to allow fishermen to clean their waders before stepping into the water.
Recommended Fly Patterns for AuSable River West Branch, New York:
2. Beaverkill River
The Beaverkill is a tributary of the East Branch Delaware River, a major branch of the Delaware River, which flows for approximately 44 miles (71 kilometers) in New York state. For many years, the kill has been revered as one of America's most famous trout streams. It aided in establishing several fundamental river conservation ideas in the United States.
Since the 19th century, when it became one of the first resort settings in the United States, the river has been a favorite spot for trout fishing. The depletion of the brook trout population by the 1850s prompted an early conservation movement to preserve the river, including brown trout hatcheries.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Beaverkill River, New York:
- Parachute Mahogany Duns - Size 12-14
- Barr Emergers BWO - Beadhead - Size 20
- PMD Spinner Olive - Size 16
3. Cattaraugus Creek
The Cattaraugus Creek is a river in western New York with a length of about 68 miles (109 km). The creek drains a wooded rural area of western New York southwest of Buffalo into Lake Erie. It flows primarily through the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca tribe before it empties into Lake Ontario.
Upstream, you'll discover a healthy population of brown trout and rainbow trout, as well as steelhead, all the way down to Lake Erie. The greatest fishing in the Seneca Nations reservation region, which is downstream from Gowanda, is found between the Scoby dam and Lake Erie.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Cattaraugus Creek, New York:
4. Chateauguay River
The Chateauguay River is a tributary of the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River, which runs through Clinton and Franklin counties in New York's Adirondacks. The ice cover on the river remains frozen from mid-December until the end of March.
The Chateaugay River is a great location for anglers seeking to catch several species of trout in the Adirondacks. Brook, rainbow, and brown trout may be found between the Forge Dam and High Falls.
Anglers can reach this area at the Forge Dam on the upper section of the river. The one-mile stretch from County Route 24 down to the river's lower end is ideal for spotting both wild and hatchery fish.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Chateaugay River, New York:
- Elk Wing Caddis (Olive) - Size 16
- Royal Wolf - Size 14
- Flashback Hare's Ear-Beadhead-Natural - Size 20
5. Chittenango Creek
Chittenango Creek, which runs from Nelson Swamp (north of Cazenovia) to Oneida Lake in Madison and Onondaga counties, is one of the most well-known trout streams in Central New York. Chittenango Creek is a popular trout fishing location. Along this medium-sized, partially open, and swiftly flowing stream, there are 4.8 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFR).
The upper portion of the stream is home to stocked and wild brown trout, as well as rare occurrences of wild brook trout. The lower area has several warm-water species such as walleye, smallmouth bass, and panfish as you approach Oneida Lake.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Chittenango Creek, New York:
6. Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It drains an area of 13,539 square miles in four US states: Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Fishing in the Delaware River is good for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, walleye, catfish, and panfish.
In New York's Catskills, the river rises in two forks and flows 419 miles (674 km) into Delaware Bay, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean via Cape May. The river's length, without including its two branches, is 388 miles (624 km). The Delaware River is one of 19 "Great Waters" designated by America's Great Waters Coalition.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Delaware River, New York:
7. Esopus Creek
Esopus Creek is one tributary of the Hudson River that drains the eastern Catskill Mountains in New York. It flows through Ulster County to the Hudson at Saugerties, tracing a 65.4-mile journey from its source on Winnisook Lake, the highest peak in the Catskills' Slide Mountain range.
Many tributaries extend its catchment into Greene and Delaware counties, as well as a minor portion of neighboring Orange County. The creek is dammed near Olive Bridge to form Ashokan Reservoir, the first of several reservoirs built in the Catskills as part of New York City's water supply system.
The watershed of the Esopus is one of the most heavily fished in New York State. The river's wild brown and rainbow trout population is excellent, and there are several good fishing spots throughout the area. In addition to this healthy population of wild trout, this creek is also stocked with over 20,000 brown trout each year.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Esopus Creek, New York:
- Green Drakes - Size 12
- Matuka Sculpin Olive - Size 4
- Copper John Hot Wire-Beadhead - Red Gold - Size 12
8. Fall Creek
Fall Creek, located in Cayuga and Tompkins counties, is a significant tributary to Cayuga Lake. The creek begins at Lake Como and meanders for about 33 miles to Ithaca, where it enters Cayuga Lake. Cornell University's campus is along the course of Fall Creek. Beebe Lake, Triphammer Falls, and Ithaca Falls are some of its notable features.
The primary game fish above Ithaca Falls are brown trout, brook trout, and smallmouth bass. The fishery is a Finger Lakes tributary where rainbow trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon, and smallmouth bass make up the majority of species.
Recommended Fly Patterns for Fall Creek, New York:
9. Naples Creek
Naples Creek, a small stream in Ontario County, New York, flows south to Canandaigua Lake. Naples Creek and its tributaries are known throughout the spring season for producing wild rainbow trout flashes.
Many anglers each year come to Naples Creek for trophy rainbows. Grimes Creek, a tributary of Naples Creek, is home to wild brown and brook trout in its upper reaches.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Naples Creek, New York:
10. Neversink River
The Neversink River is a 55-mile-long (89 km) tributary of the Delaware River in southeastern New York. The name comes from an Algonquian language term meaning "crazy river." The West Branch of the Neversink River is joined to several major tributaries, such as Biscuit Brook and Pigeon Creek, at Frost Valley YMCA in Denning, Ulster County. It's a rough and wild river that's good for trout fishing in its upper stretch.
The Neversink River is home to a healthy wild brown trout population stocked yearly with over 5,000 brown trout. This tailwater fishery offers excellent coldwater habitat throughout the summer, allowing anglers to catch nice fish during the summer months when other streams are too hot to fish.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Neversink River, New York:
- Parachute Humpy Ant - Size 16
- Bow River Bugger - Size 4
- Holy Grail-Tungsten - Hairs Ear - Size 12-16
11. Nine Mile Creek
Nine Mile Creek or Ninemile Creek is a stream in Central New York. Its source is Otisco Lake in the town of Marcellus, where it flows north for 21.75 miles (35.00 km) through the towns of Marcellus and Camillus to Onondaga Lake in Geddes.
The Nine Mile Creek is a beautiful river known for its trout-fishing opportunities, with roughly five miles of PFR (public fishing rights), five parking areas, and unofficial pull-offs along the stream.
Brown trout, both wild and stocked, are present throughout the midstream stretch from Marcellus to Camillus. This region has the finest trout habitat because of several cold water springs in it, making the water temperature more sustainable for trout.
Warmwater fish become more common in the stream again between Camillus and Onondaga Lake's end at Ninemile Creek, although wild brown trout can be found nearly all the way to the lake.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Nine Mile Creek, New York:
12. Oak Orchard Creek
Oak Orchard Creek is a small creek that flows into Lake Ontario in Orleans County, New York. The marshlands along which Oak Orchard Creek meanders are a major resting area for migratory birds and are protected by the state and federally designated conservation areas.
In Oak Orchard Creek, there are steelhead (rainbow) trout, chinook salmon, coho salmon, brown trout, and thousands of stocked fish each season. The runs of fish in this water provide some of the most exciting fly fishing in New York State, and the river provides access at multiple points, the best being along NY 104 and north to the lake near Lockport.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Oak Orchard Creek , New York:
13. Owego Creek
Owego Creek runs along the border between Tioga and Tompkins counties in New York. It begins in Hammond Hill State Forest and meanders for about 47 miles to its confluence with Owego Creek before flowing into the Susquehanna River.
The West Branch of Owego Creek is a popular trout fishing spot because it is heavily stocked and supports natural trout. The West Branch of Owego Creek has 2.6 miles of PFR regulated distance. There are three authorized parking areas and unofficial pull-offs along the stream. Another entry point is located just north of Speedsville on county forest land.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Owego Creek , New York:
14. Salmon River
The Salmon River is a river in Upstate New York, the United States. It is a popular and economically important sportfishing destination and the most heavily fished of New York's Lake Ontario tributaries.
It flows 44 miles (71 km) westward through two hydroelectric dams and over the 110-foot (34 m) Salmon River Falls before emptying into eastern Lake Ontario at Port Ontario in Oswego County. The watershed of the Salmon River covers approximately 280 square miles (730 km2).
The Salmon River is notable for its recreational salmon fishery maintained by the Salmon River Fish Hatchery, which is located north of Altmar on a tributary to the Salmon River.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Salmon River, New York:
15. Saranac River
The Saranac River is an 81-mile-long (130 km) river in the US state of New York. The upper reaches are characterized by a majority of flatwater and lakes. North of Upper Saranac Lake, the river has more than three dozen source ponds and ponds, with Mountain Pond on Long Pond Mountain being the highest.
Where the mouth of the Saranac River meets Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, you'll find some exceptional fishing spots. There is fantastic angling along this three-mile stretch during the fall, but Lake Champlain Tributary Regulations provisions restrict weighted flies, lures, and bait.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Saranac River, New York:
16. Schroon River
The Schroon River is a tributary of the Hudson River in New York's Adirondack Park, which it joins near Underwood at the confluence of Crowfoot Brook and New Pond Brook. Its drainage basin extends entirely within the Adirondack Park. The river runs through North Hudson, Schroon, Chester, Bolton, and Warrensburg.
Brown, brook, rainbow trout, and Atlantic salmon are all stocked in the Schroon, making it a great river to fish for any of these species. There are many good access points along the Schroon, and the river can be waded in many places.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Schroon River, New York:
17. St. Regis River
The St. Regis River rises in another county, but a portion of its water flows through St. Lawrence County. Trout water extends from the county line to Fort Jackson, while the 25-mile stretch from Fort Jackson to the St. Regis Indian Reservation is known for walleyes and bronzebacks. Northern pike and muskies are possibilities, as well as panfish, depending on the season.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the St. Regis River, New York:
18. Ten Mile Creek
In Dutchess County, the Ten Mile River is a 15.2-mile long tributary of the Housatonic River. It begins in Amenia, New York, at the confluence of Webatuck Creek and Wassaic Creek. The Ten Mile River flows south through Dover, New York, where it turns east and then enters Connecticut to form the boundary between Kent and Sherman for a half mile before emptying into the Housatonic River.
The water temperatures of Ten Mile Creek remain constant throughout the year, and annually, over 9,000 brown trout are introduced into the River.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Ten Mile Creek, New York:
- Elk Hair Caddis CDC- Olive - Size 16
- Parachute Humpy Ant - Size 14
- Spotlight Caddis Emerger - Olive - Size 14
19. Genesee River - Upper
The Genesee River is a northward-flowing tributary of Lake Ontario that passes through Pennsylvania and New York. The river provided early 20th-century power for Rochester's mills and still provides hydroelectric energy to the city center.
With 18 miles of public fishing easements available, including a 2.5-mile segment near Shongo, where only catch and release fishing is allowed, there is plenty of access on the upper Genesee. There are accessible fishing platforms on the river in Wellsville at Island Park and at the Belmont Dam.
The Genesee River receives an annual stocking of 20,600 yearling brown trout and 6,200 yearling rainbow trout each spring.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Genesee River, New York:
20. West Canada Creek
The West Canada Creek is a 76-mile-long (122 km) river that flows through upstate New York. It drains the south part of the Adirondacks and empties into the Mohawk River near Herkimer, Hamilton, Oneida, and Herkimer counties.
A trophy section goes from Trenton Falls to the Oneida/Herkimer county border, also known as Comstock Bridge, for fishing and fly-fishing enthusiasts. The Trout Power Initiative is one of many advocacy organizations that has worked to balance the consequences of power generation and wild trout habitat needs in West Canada Creek.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the West Canada Creek, New York:
- Muddler Minnow - Size 4
- Parachute Adams Indicator - Size 12
- Flashback Pheasant Tail-Beadhead Gold - Size 18
21. Willowemoc Creek
Willowemoc Creek is one tributary of Beaver Kill. It's a renowned trout stream in Sullivan County, New York, located near Catskill Park. The Willowemoc is 27 miles long and flows almost directly west, where it joins the Beaver Kill at the Junction Pool, which is noted for trout fishing. From both north and south, it has numerous tributaries that flow into it.
The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum sits right on the Willowemoc on historic Route 17. Brown trout are stocked in the river from the Catskill Mountain Fish Hatchery, located several miles north of Debruce. The upper reaches of the stream are home to rainbow trout. Rainbow trout do not flourish as well as brown trout.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Willowemoc Creek, New York:
22. Wiscoy Creek
The Wiscoy Creek is a stream in western New York, approximately 15 miles (24 km) long, and drains into the Genesee River. The water temperature rarely rises above 70°F (21°C), allowing trout fishing all year round due to the cold springs that feed it. The only section that is stocked is a one-mile (1.6 km) stretch in Allegany County, which is nursed by cold springs.
Recommended Fly Patterns for the Wiscoy Creek, New York:
What Gear do I need to Fly Fish in New York?
Fly fishing in New York can be done with a variety of gear. If you are fishing for smaller fish like panfish or stream trout, you can use a lighter rod and reel combo. For larger fish like salmon or bass, you will need a heavier rod and reel combo. You will also need flies, tippet, and leader material specific to the type of fish.
The equipment you'll require to fly fish in New York State will generally include a decent stream fishing fly rod, which is a 7 ½ to 9 foot 4 to 6 weight. You'll need a reel that can hold at least 125 yards of backing, plus a good quality floating fly line.
You should also have a selection of flies that imitate the types of aquatic insects the fish you're targeting are feeding on.
Additional Facts about Fly Fishing in New York
Is there fly fishing in New York?
There is a ton of great fly fishing in New York! The state of New York has many different types of waterways that are perfect for fly fishing, including streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. The Adirondacks provide some of the best fly fishing in New York, with streams and rivers that are teeming with trout.
Where's the best trout fishing in New York State?
Trout fishing in New York is fantastic, and there are many great spots to choose from. Some of the best trout fishing in New York can be found in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and Finger Lakes regions.
West Canada Creek is known as one of the most renowned trout streams in Central New York, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation or DEC. It offers excellent fishing for both brown and brook trout from its source in Hamilton County's southeastern Adirondacks to its mouth near Cortland Lake.
How do you catch trout in New York?
To catch brown trout in upstate New York, remember that they are fall spawners, so they move into Lake Ontario's tributaries in September and October. The Salmon and Oswego rivers are one of the two major tributaries that brown trout frequent. Brown trout will travel up nearly every little stream to spawn as long as there is enough water flow.
Can you fish for trout all year round in New York?
Previously, the state's traditional trout fishing season ran from April 1 through October 15. The new year-round catch-and-release fishery, effective in 2021, will allow people to use artificial lures only from October 16 to March 31.
Some of the best fly fishing in New York can be found in the Adirondacks, Catskills, and Finger Lakes regions. The state of New York has many different types of waterways that are perfect for fly fishing, including streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. The Department of Environmental Conservation stocks approximately 2.3 million catchable-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout annually in almost 300 lakes, ponds, and roughly 3,100 miles of streams throughout the state.