Go fish: Opening day for trout in the Catskills

Above: Delaware River July 2013, by Jody Bryant, an entry in our Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. (The deadline to enter is Thursday, April 3.)  

Today is the first day of fishing trout fishing season in New York State, one of the first true signs of a Catskills spring. On cue, the Times Herald-Record recorded anglers taking their first casts of the season at Junction Pool in Roscoe this morning.

Looking to get your fishing permit? Head to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's new online license website, where you can buy and print your license from your computer. 

To celebrate opening day, the Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection at the Phoenicia Library has launched an online interactive website that boasts a truly impressive "Match the Hatch" database of artificial flies, the real insects that they're modelled after, and the fish that love them.  The website is a loving recreation of a physical "Match the Hatch" exhibit that was housed in the Phoenicia Library until it was damaged by a fire in 2011. 

This weekend, anglers the world over will make the pilgrimage to Junction Pool in Roscoe, the epicenter of American fly fishing, where they'll perform the ritual "First Cast" and consume the ritual "Two Headed Trout Dinner." More info on the event's Facebook page and below: 


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Get your poles and waders ready as FIRST CAST is approaching quickly!! The Roscoe Chamber will be welcoming our locals and guests at 7:00 am on Saturday, April 6th as they get ready to cast their lines into our cool waters at Junction Pool here in Roscoe NY. Everyone is welcome to join us in this annual celebration. There will also be a celebration at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center starting at 9:30 am. That evening The Two Headed Trout Dinner will be held at the Rockland House. A six course meal that is out of this world! Tickets are going quickly so reserve your ticket now. $45.00 per person. (includes Kiwanis breakfast the following morning) Please call Miriam Stone – 607-498-4139.

Narrowsburg-based fishing guide Anthony Ritter, of Gone Fishing Guide Service, is working with us on our fishing coverage this year. Stay tuned for more from Ritter when our Catskills Outdoor Guide comes out on Memorial Day. For now, here's an excerpt of an essay by Ritter about rainbow trout in the Catskills and in the Upper Delaware River:  

Our region is blessed with so many prolific rivers and streams. An angler could spend a week up here in the springtime and never fish them all! Hallowed and historic names like The Beaverkill, The Willowemoc, Main Stem Upper Delaware, The West Branch, The East Branch, The Neversink and the list goes on. All of these rivers are clean, oxygenated and fertile which means they all have wonderful hatches of mayflies, caddis and stoneflies which are the trout’s main diet.

Nymphs are the first stage of an aquatic insect’s life and about 80% of the trout’s subsistence is eating these tiny little creatures that live underneath rocks in the water. By the time the water rises to 50 degrees however, these nymphs start to swim up to the river’s surface to break free of their shuck and become mayflies and caddis. Once this begins, the flies sit on the surface of the water waiting for their wings to dry and they become vulnerable to the hungry trout just waiting to pick them off for an easy meal ...

All of the trout on the Upper Delaware are wild with more rainbows in section south of Long Eddy to Callicoon. These fish are beautiful – like silver bullets with a tinge of pink – and have been in our rivers for over 100 years. They inhabit fast oxygenated riffles and pockets eating nymphs and as the hatch begins will drop down to tailouts at the heads of pools to eat dries on top.

Great nymph patterns are bead head Prince, Brassie, Pheasant Tail and Copper Johns in size 12 through 16 and most of the time I’ll fish a tandem, two fly, rig with two bead heads or a bead head and an emerger. Your best time to fish for these big beautiful ‘bows is when the water temperature ranges from 50 to 66 degrees or from late April through mid June. 

Below: A photo of Jim Bray with a wild 19-inch rainbow he caught and released while fishing with Anthony Ritter. Ritter writes: "Bray was wading mid-river north of Hankins, New York when this fish nailed a bead head nymph and took Jim all the way into his backing!" Photo by Anthony Ritter, 2014. Used with permission.