Copyright 2017 James Marsh
Fly Fishing On The West Branch
Ausable River In New York
The AuSable River consists of three main sections
including the East Branch, the West Branch and the
Main branch. It's the West Branch that is known for the
large trout. The West Branch of the Ausable River is
located in the Northeastern part of New York in the
Adirondack Mountains. It's one of the best trout streams
in the entire Eastern United States.
There are plenty of anglers that will argue that it's the
best stream in New York but that would also get a quick
response from other anglers who would disagree. It has
some very nice trout that range from ten to seventeen
inches and a few even larger There's one thing for
sure. It's one of the most beautiful streams in the East.
South Meadow Brook and March Brook flow from Mount
March and merge to form the West Branch of the
Ausable River. It's joined by several other small streams
as it flows through meadows for a distance of about five
miles. The water is slow to moderate in this section as it
twist and turns through the meadows. Below the bridge
at Route 86, the stream changes to a faster flowing river
with some pocket water and a more typical pool, run,
The river gains even more strength below Wilmington
Notch. There's a hundred foot high waterfall,
appropriately named High Falls, in this section. The
river finally settles down some with a series of pools with
more moderate flowing water but not for long. Yet
another set of high waterfalls, the Flume Falls, exist
farther downstream. It's about a mile below the Flume
Falls before the river begins to settle down again but
only because it is damed farther downstream in
This section is technically a lake but it's more like a
wide, slow flowing river. Fly fishing the Ausable River in
this section is tough due to the deep water. The
tailwater below the dam provides some of the best fly
fishing waters the West Branch of the Ausable has to
offer. It appears more like a freestone stream than a
tailwater in some respects. The river falls at a
moderately steep decline. Three are large boulders and
plenty of prime pocket water.
Fly fishing Ausable River in this section isn't so easy
though. There is a section of the river about two miles
long that lies below the Lewis Bridge just downstream of
Wilmington that cannot be accessed for fishing
Below Black Brook, a small tributary stream, the fishing
is usually very good. About seven miles of the river can
be fished before the next dam at Ausable Forks. It too
has a decent tailwater section about a mile long. Just
below the short section of tailwater, the river converges
with the East Branch to form the Main Branch of the
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 &12 ft., 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 71/2
ft., 3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rod:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five or
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Loon Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Fly Fishing Guide for the West
The water in the West Branch is often tannic
acid water the color of tea. It can be difficult
to see the bottom, so wading can be
dangerous due to holes in the bottom of the
stream. A wading staff is recommended to
provide additional stability.
From a mile above the Rt. 86 bridge at
Holcomb Pond Outlet, down to the
Wilmington Notch, is a five mile long catch
and release section. From this section down
past the Wilmington Notch State
Campground to the small lake in Wilmington
is a section that usually holds some very
large trout. It is best fished from a canoe or
There is a small catch and release section is
this area as well. The next ten miles of
tailater below the dam consists of fast pocket
water. This section is known for its excellent
dry fly fishing.
The best time to fish the West Branch of
the Ausable is from the first week in May to
the end of June.
Fishing continues to be good during the
summer because of the many springs and
overhanging branches to shade the water
which helps keep the water cool. The most
famous hatch of all on the Ausable is the
Green Drake hatch. This is followed by
good hatches of Sulphurs and Tricos.
Continuing downstream to Ausable Forks
is a section known as “Bush Country”
which is more remote but can be
accessed from the lower end of Ausable
of this section is private property and is
Some sections of the Ausable River is top
notch dry fly water and some would favor
nymph fishing. It all depends on the
section you choose to fish. The abundant
hatches of mayflies caddisflies and
stoneflies support healthy population of
Hatches and Trout Flies for the
West Branch Ausable River:
Our information on aquatic insects is based
on our stream samples of larvae and
nymphs, not guess work. We base fly
suggestions on imitating the most plentiful
and most available insects and other foods
at the particular time you are fishing. Unlike
the generic fly shop trout flies, we have
specific imitations of all the insects in the
West Branch Ausable and in all stages of
life that are applicable to fishing. If you want
to fish better, more realistic trout flies, have
a much higher degree of success, give us a
call. We not only will help you with
selections, you will learn why, after trying
Perfect Flies, 92% of the thousands of our
customers will use nothing else.
The flies you need to fish the West Branch
of the Ausable River depends on the
particular section you plan on fishing. The
stocked trout are fairly easy to catch and
can be caught on just about any fly for a
short time after they are stocked. To catch
one of the larger holdover trout, or one of
the few wild brown trout there, requires skill
and a lot of luck. Streamers fished during
very low light conditions sometimes pays
off. Other than that, mayfly nymphs and
caddisfly larva and pupa imitations fished
near the bottom produce most of the wild
and holdover brown trout.
One thing you should not overlook is the
terrestrials. Again, the low light situations
provide the best opportunity. Beetles, ants
and hoppers all three work at times. Just
don't expect to catch one every few cast. A
larger wild brown trout or even a year, or
two year old holdover brown trout, should
be considered a very good catch.
Hendricksons hatch in May and early June
followed by March Browns and Light Cahills.
If you are fishing during the early spring,
you may encounter some good hatches,
the most famous of which is the Green
Drake. Sulphurs follow and then it is Trico
time. The Green Drakes hath in early June,
then Tricos in late July, August and
Starting in the last week of August until
mid October the Slate Drake hatches will
There are even some Little Brown
Stoneflies hatch in the early part of the
season. If you do run into a hatch of any
aquatic insect, by all means fish it. Be
prepared to fish subsurface most of the
There are plenty of caddisflies and all in
all, they provide the best dry fly fishing
opportunity. The Cinnamon caddis hatch
most of the late spring and summer. There
is a decent Little Sister caddisfly hatch.
Green Sedges and Short-horned Sedges
make up most of the balance of the
Be sure to have plenty of "Rock Worms"
(larva stage of the Green Sedge) on hand.
They work very well most of the season. If
you stick with the caddisflies, midges and
nymphs fished deep and you are likely to
Don't forget about the midge. It usually
becomes the most important insect to try
to match in colder weather. I would have
plenty of them in hook sizes 20 and 22.
Terrestrial insects become a choice about
the middle of June. Imitations of inch
worms, beetles, grass hoppers and ants
will catch trout until the first frost appears.
We always recommend "Perfect Flies".
They are the most realistic and most
effective imitations that are commercially
available. You will find our caddisfly
imitations work great for this stream. We
hope you give them a try.
Streamers are also very effective during
the fall season, especially those that
Although you can fish during the winter,
most days are too cold to be very
productive; however, It is possible to catch
trout especially if your using imitations of
midge larvae and pupae.
|Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (email@example.com)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders over $50 are shipped via
Headlines: The stream level are
back up a little too high to wade in
most places. There may be a few
places you can wade with caution.
The water is falling back down fast
but there is some more rain in the
forecast later this week. There are
still some good hatches taking place
and terrestrials are also workng.
Keep up with the latest stream
levels, temps, weather and
recommended strategies and flies
with our fishing report linked above.
Map of West Branch Ausable River