Catskill Mountains fly fishing adventures. We are located just two hours north of New York City. We specialize in walk wade and drift boat fishing trips for beginners all the way to seasoned veterans on the fly.
Yesterday I has my first trip with three awesome guys. We had an uncle with nephews in town and they took advantage of the warm temps and sunny skies. This winter there were parts where it seemed the sun had a mask on. It was depressing and there was no hope. Yesterday was the hope lol and with daylight savings this weekend ahhhhh it feels good.
Catskill Snow Melt
Earlier this week when looking at the weather I thought the snow would release from the hills faster than it did. On yesterdays trip, the water was “perfect” looking. However, the temp was still winter cold. Every year since I was about four I always trick myself with optimism on that first warm day. Regardless of fish to hand it was nice to be in the sun.
It was a rewarding trip in the fact that the two younger nephews (who were smart as all hell) picked it up fast. We focused on the slow moving water with depths around 2-5”. The boys learned the indicator cast mend and cover water method. Before we made our first cast we checked the rocks to see what was active. I was proud of how they handled hooking and losing fish and the determination to keep going. We hooked 3 early on before we grasped the line management. If those boys hooked them in the end of the day when their skills were peaking it would have been a wet net day.
After we wrapped up I drove past the upper west branch. It was just after 5pm and Quagua Creek and the Deposit spiller were both shooting mud. I realized then that the first thaw was upon us. After checking the charts it was true. See the graphs below. This is the next day March 12 at 4:30pm.
As you can see all of the rivers both freestones and tail waters shot up. The Beaverkill and Willowemoc are chocolate. This should slow down as the cold nights come back upon us. As for the tail waters the melt hasn’t even really begun.
Today I drove around Walton, Margerettville and Andes. The snow pack is still thick in the hills above the reservoir. THIS is the snow you should be planning on during the warm spring days. The state dropped the Pepacton and Cannonsville reservoirs about a month ago. This should catch the estimated snow pack in the hills and allow for a safe release downstream of the Downsville Dam.
When you finally make it past the half way point of winter your mind turns to warmer days with fly rod in hand. You then realize you have another two months before the Hendricksons arrive but you really want to wet a line. Get out the winter nymphs. Shake the winter blues on the Beaverkill or Willowemoc. Perhaps find a warm day and winter nymph border water on the West Branch of the Delaware.
Let us tell you our three favorite winter nymph patterns that are tried and true.
First and foremost the Zebra Midge might be the easiest fly pattern there is. It legit like two materials and perhaps a weighted head if you’d like. Midges hatch all year round and trout can easily digest these small insects.
The Zebra midge can be tied as big as a 16 but more commonly is created in size 20 and 22. The zebra midge is a simple pattern using just black thread and silver body wire.
The pheasant tail is always a good option for fishing sub surface. Anytime of year the pheasant tail works and winter is not any different. The pheasant tail is a simple pattern that is highly effective in on the Beaverkill and Willowemoc.
Winter Stone Fly
The small winter stones start popping in late February as soon as there is snow melt. You will find them in sizes 16 and 18. When walking the banks find patches of snow and you will see the winter stoneflies on the white snow contrast.
How to fish winter nymphs
In the wintertime you should fish using an indicator in slow moving deep water. Try to find the 2-6 foot areas where the water is not totally still but has slight movement. Change your distances to your fly often to figure out the correct depth. Use an indicator that is not “clunky”. The winter conditions usually have gin clear water.
Fish slow water with a lite indicator. Move slow and fish below the trout. Do not cast and slap the water. Make every cast count.
Pro Tip: Use 6x fluorocarbon tippet in the winter time. Fish upstream and move very slow. The bright snow can make you pop out and spook the fish.
Winter Beaverkill fishing is open in certain sections of the river in the winter months. The opportunity to get outside and fly fish for trout is still there. However, it may be a little tougher.
Beaverkill Winter Fishing Access
The Beaverkill River from the Sullivan County/Delaware County line downstream is open. From the county border west for 2.5 miles down river is one Beaverkill River Section open for winter fishing. If you take a left at the blinking light in Roscoe and continue down old 17 you will reach the county border about a mile or so past Roscoe Campsite Park. From the county line the river is open for 2.5 miles for catch and release winter fishing.
The second location to fish in winter on the Beaverkill is around Iron Bridge in Horton, just upstream from Horton Brook. Fishing access is available all year and in winter from 1 mile upstream of Horton’s Iron bridge to 1.6 miles downstream.
Safe Winter Fishing Practices
In the winter time when fishing the Beaverkill River please do not take the fish out of the water when air temperatures fall below freezing. This could freeze the gill plates of the trout and harm the fish.
During the snowy months businesses in the Roscoe area shorten their hours. When headed to the river make sure to check hours of local businesses. If you’re looking to spend the night, also make sure to reserve a room. Some towns are more active than others in the cold months.
Over the next few days the Catskill Region and Upper Delaware River System will see extreme winter temperatures. What will this mean for the Delaware River System? Let’s see…
Seven Day Forecast
Over the next seven days we will be lucky to get the mercury over the freezing mark. It feels like the sun has had its mask on for about a month now. The sky is gray and the ground is hard and icy.
As the winter temperatures fall you will see the rivers “lock up” a bit. The edges will freeze and runoff melt will seize. As you will see looking at the flows charts, any new runoff that was destined for the river will freeze. Shelf ice is inevitable with these extreme winter temperatures. .
What does this mean for fishing?
Fishing will get very very tough for the angler. The ice on the tip of the rod will make it tough to fish for a long time. The fish will drop into the deepest holes and be glued to the bottom. Indicator nymphing deep slow holes with an indicator is your best bet.