May 18, 2017 4 min read

Greetings Compleat Anglers:  Fishing is getting hot all over, but today we'll focus in on the Delaware River system in the Catskills (including the Beaverkill and Willowemoc.)

Several of us here at the shop have been spending time on all three Delaware branches over the past few weeks. The water has been high - in many cases, too high to wade comfortably so most of our time on the river has been from floating. This past week, Bob Reichart and I fished the East Branch, West Branch and the Main Stem. Water levels were high on all three branches but with great clarity. Water temperatures hovered from the high 40's to the low 50's. AQs the weather warms the temps will go steadily upwards. There was the inevitable wrangling with the infamous Delaware Valley wind (on Monday it blew 30mph) but the fish were looking up! 

On Tuesday, we hit great bugs on the Main Stem. The riffs had huge hatches of Hendricksons with duns all over the water. A couple of hours later came the Rusty Spinners. The fish were on both the duns and the spinners with wild Rainbows slashing all through the "Braids" as that section of river is called. The bows ran from 12" to 17" and it was great fun hunting them in the fast water!

Along with the Hendricksons and Rusty Spinners, we had lots of Caddis - some light tan #18 and also some Apple Caddis #16. Throw in some small Olives (#18-20), Blue Quills (#16), and a few early March Browns and you had some pretty active fish. The bugs really started around 1:30PM and ebbed and flowed throughout the rest of the day.

We spent a good amount of time hunting along the banks looking for bank sippers. When the water is high, the fish spread out nicely and find lies in seams running tight to the bank. Even water 6-inches can hide those huge, beautiful Delaware Browns, and most bank sipper rises are very supptle - almost like the rise to a spinner. Find a similar rise along the bank and chances are you're on to a nice fish.  Just before dark on the Main Stem, we found a fish tight to the bank sipping quietly and steadily. I was lucky enough to get the cast in the right place and took this lovely 21 inch Brown - amazingly strong and really a thrill.


If you're planning a trip to the Delaware, Beaverkill, or Willowemoc, here are the flies you'll need:

For dries, Hendrickson dun #16 & #14;  Rusty Spinner #16;  Various caddis (tan, Apple, brown) in sizes #14, #16, #18);  BWO ( size #16, #18, #20);  Also, we spotted a few early March Browns so the rest of their relatives can't be far away! You should throw a few in your box. Along with the above patterns, its always good to have a few attractor patterns in your box for blind-casting. A bushy Adams in a #14 or #16 is a great prospecting pattern - fish it through the riffs, or try it for those impossible trout that sporadically sip in the long, glassy flats. And with the approach of June, keep your eyes out for Green Drakes and also those big, Gloden Stoneflies (Perla) that fill the grassy banks of the Main Stem and East Branch.

As well, nymphs and streamers are still accounting for some nice fish. Hendrickson nymphs (#14 & #16), BH Pheasant Tails (#14 & #16), Hare's Ear nymphs (#14 & #16), Brown Flashbacks and Prince nymphs should also take fish, along with wet fly and soft hackle patterns. While the water is still high, best Streamer colors are white and black.

One other nice perc of a daylong Delaware float is all the amazing wildlife you see along the way. This week, we came across a great bald eagle's nest with the female sitting and guarding the eggs. We pulled up in the river, almost 100 feet below, and began taking some pictures, but our proximity made the female nervous and she began buzzing us and squawking. So we took a couple more shots and left her to her growing family!


Here the Flow Chart for this week:

Delaware West Branch at Stilesville:  1450cfs at 52 degrees

Delaware West Branch at Hale's Eddy:  1790cfs at 49 degrees

Delaware East Branch at Fish's Eddy:  1490cfs at 51 degrees

Main Stem Delaware at Lordville:  4300cfs at 52 degrees

Beaverkill at Cooks Falls:  634cfs at 51 degrees

If you have the time, give this wonderful system of rivers a shot - it is a very special trophy trout wild fishery. And if you've never fished it before, stop by the shop - we'll be happy to steer you in the right direction, give you parking tips, set you up with a guide, a book about the river, suggested tackle and flies, or even draw you a map!

Tight lines, and see you soon!