Great Destination Streams
Delaware River New York
by James Marsh
Copyright 2014 James Marsh
June 2014 Issue
James Reid's Shop
West Branch Delaware River
The West Branch tailwater, below Cannonsville Reservoir,
is the most popular and generally the most productive of
the three sections. Naturally, it is also the most fished
section. The West Branch relies solely on releases of water
from the dam. The twenty-mile long section supports trout
throughout the year. For the most part, the West Branch
consist of long fast runs, pools and riffles. It's a big river
that varies in width from about sixty feet to as much as
two-hundred feet. Part of the West Branch near the town
of Deposit has a "catch-and-release only" section. The
West Branch holds both brown and rainbow trout, but the
majority are larger size brown trout.
There are over a dozen well, marked fishing access points
along the West Branch. It is noted for its prolific hatches of
aquatic insects and the challenges it presents in matching
the hatch. Anglers come from throughout the nation to fish
its Hendrickson, Sulphur and many other mayfly hatches,
but it also contains large populations of stoneflies, midges
East Branch Delaware River
The East Branch of the Delaware River is a tailwater that
lies below Pepacton Reservoir. A few miles downstream
from the dam, the East Branch receives the water of the
famous Beaverkill, its largest tributary. The entire East
Branch is approximately thirty-two miles long. This section
of the Delaware is wide, ranging from fifty to as much as
two-hundred feet in width. You could easily say the East
Branch has two sections - one above the confluence of
the Beaverkill and another below its confluence. The water
from the Pepacton Dam to the Beaverkill is very clear,
moderately flowing water with long pools. It has a good
population of brown trout. Brook trout are present in many
of the small tributaries that enter the upper East Branch.
Below the Beaverkill confluence, the river is greatly
dependant on the Beaverkill's water.
know this is going to make a lot of anglers less than happy, but I will put it like this. I have yet to fish a tailwater in the
Eastern United States with better trout fishing than the Delaware River, and I've fished most all of them. My intent with
that statement isn't to compare one stream to anther. There are many different sets of criteria that anglers us to judge
a trout stream. For example, it would be hard to beat a decent one very near the front door of your house. One may place
a large amount of emphasis on solitude, or being able to fish alone, out of the view of others. One may place a huge
amount of emphasis on how easy trout can be caught from a stream. Another angler may prefer a stream with the largest
size fish. The list of preferences could go on and on. My only intension in stating that "I haven't fished a better tailwater
trout stream in the eastern U. S.", is just to point out the Delaware Rive is a very good one, and in the opinion of many
anglers, the best.
When I refer to the Delaware River, I'm actually referring to three completely different sections of the upper Delaware River
in New York and Pennsylvania. They are the West Branch, most angler's favorite of the three, the main Delaware River
below the confluence of the East and West Branches (usually called the "Big D") and the East Branch. For several miles,
the Delaware River in the boundary between Pennsylvania and New York. New York does have a larger hunk of the water,
since it contains all of the East Branch. Both states rightly claim the big river.
Why is the stream so well rated by most anglers? One reason is because there's almost eighty miles of water with a very
good population of large, wild trout. It's many miles of cold water and huge population of aquatic insects, makes the
Delaware River a choice destination for catching wild, stream-bred rainbow and brown trout. No other tailwater in the
eastern United States can compare to the Delaware River in that respect. The great majority of eastern tailwaters have
supplemental stocking. Only a part of the East Branch of the Delaware River is stocked. You won't find any stocked trout in
the West Branch or Big D.
The Big "D", Main Stem Delaware River
The West and East branches of the river flow together at Hancock, New York, to form what the locals call the Big "D", or
the main stem of the Delaware River. There are about twenty-five miles of water thats supports trout on the Main Stem.
There are a few public access points on the main stem but access is limited. This section of the Delaware is mostly fished
from drift boats. The river consist mostly of long pools with smooth surface water but the pools are regularly broken up with
riffles. This section of the Delaware provides an excellent habitat for both rainbow and brown trout. The fish in the main
stem are large. Eighteen inch trout are common and keep in mind, they are all wild, stream-bred trout.
Once you fish the Hendrickson/Red Quill spinner fall, you will want to return to the Delaware River, year after year.
Angie fishing the West Branch of the Delaware
James fishing the East Branch of the Delaware