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Esopus River New York Fly Fishing
Type of Stream: Freestone & Tailwater, medium size
Species: Brook, rainbow and brown trout (wild and stocked)
Location: Southeastern New York
Nearest Town: Kingston, NY
The Esopus River often referred to as the Esopus Creek helps to supply New York City’s giant appetite for fresh pristine drinking water but it has become one of New York’s better trout fisheries. Water leaves the Schoharie Reservoir in the Catskills Region and is pulled into the Shandaken Tunnel and then flows southeast 18 miles before it enters the Esopus Creek at the Shandaken portal in Ulster County. After that it flows another 11 miles around Panther Mountain before it empties into the Ashokan Reservoir. The tunnel was constructed starting in 1916 for the purpose of transporting water to NYC, however it provides the perfect habitat for wild rainbow trout.
That portion of the Escopus River that is above the entrance of the portal at Allaben is relatively small. From Winnisooks Lake it flows through private property as it follows Rt. 47 past Big Indian before it gets to Allaben. The upper part of this section falls at a fairly steep decline forming small pools and pocket water. This section of the Escopus is inhabited by rainbow, brown and brook trout that are a little smaller than they tend to be in the lower portion; but they are more plentiful.
After leaving the portal, the Esopus River water behaves more like tailwaters because it is very cold and well adapted to trout. Again like tailwaters, the flow can be strong and a little more challenging to fish. Unlike the characteristics of the water above the portal, it has large deep pools, swift riffles and long runs. As the Escopus flows toward Ashokan, it becomes wider resulting from the contributions made by the tributaries. The rainbows in this portion are 10 to 12 inches long and the browns tend to run a little longer than that.
A well known disadvantage of fishing the Escopus River is that it is a pleasant river for tubers and canoes in the summer months. Care should be taken so as not to interrupt their enjoyment.
Fly Fishing in the Spring:
The rainbows run up the river in the spring making it possible to find a lunker so it is a good time to fiwh. Start with the Blue Winged Olives in March followed by the Hendricksons, and the Blue Quills.some of the large migrating rainbows will fall prey to the larger nymph patterns.
Summer Fishing on the Escopus:
The cold water discharge (like taillwaters discharge) provide cool water to support summer fishing. The Slate Drakes start to hatch is June as do the Sulphur Duns and the Eastern Pale Evening Duns. A variety of Caddis will also be hatching.
Fall Fly Fishing:
The fall is a beautiful time in the Catskills and a great time to fish the Escopus River. the browns will be migrating and will fall for some of the nymphs and streamers. A second grood of the Blue winged Olives will hatch and the Slate Drakes will continue to hatch as well. Terrestrials will be effective in late summer and early fall and of course, the Midges will be available for trout all year long.
In the very upper portions of the Escopus, the land is posted however, there are some portions where access is possible. Below Big Indian, Rt. 28 follows the Escopus providing good access down to the Ashokan Reservoir.
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