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The Five Best Places to Go Fly Fishing Near NYC 

The Five Best Places to Go Fly Fishing Near NYC 

Written by Owen Dolan, co-owner of FreeStone Expeditions and featured guide at the OutdoorFest 2017 Filson Fly Fishing Series. 

So you watched A River Runs Through It, and you want to give fly fishing a shot, but you’ve got no skills and no way to get yourself out to Montana. But I bet you didn’t know that New York State is the birthplace of fly fishing in the United States.  That’s right, if it wasn’t for a guy named Theodore Gordon from Livingston Manor writing a letter to a British colleague in 1890, this sport may never have developed stateside in the way that it has. 

So, New Yorker, here’s a guide to getting your fly on right in and around NYC.  And if you’re over 16, don’t forget to get your fishing license.

 

Where to Go Fly Fishing Near NYC

1. Start easy and stay close to home at Prospect Park and Central Park

This is the place to cut your teeth.  Tie on a wooly bugger, cast it out there and strip it back to you.  Chances are, you’ll see the fish chasing your fly even if they don’t take it.  Vary your presentation until you meet with success.

Difficulty Level:  Beginner

Equipment:  7’6” 3 Weight Rod to 9’ 5 Weight Rod, Weight Forward floating line

Flies: Streamers, nymphs

Fish:  Largemouth Bass, Pumpkinseed, Bluegill

Remember, it’s catch and release only!

2. Level Up and Try a River: Head to the Ramapo River Southern New York State

You’re bored with banging panfish, and you’re ready to move on to trout fishing.  Grab your kit, jump on the train and run down to the river from the DEC access point next to the station in Tuxedo.  You’re gonna need some waders and boots now, and you’ll learn to start matching the hatch and managing more difficult presentations. About an hour drive from the city.

Difficulty Level:  Intermediate

Equipment:  7’6” 3 Weight Rod to 9’ 5 Weight Rod, Weight Forward floating line, waders, boots

Flies: Streamers, nymphs, dry flies

Fish: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout

 

3. Match the Hatch and Join Fly Flishing History at The Beaverkill and Willowemoc Rivers

The birthplace of American fly fishing, this is where it all started.  Cairn’s Pool, Barnhard’s Pool, Hendrickson’s Pool.  Hardcore fly addicts travel from all country to fish these hallowed waters. Take the skills you learned on the Ramapo and up your etymology game, cause if you want to catch fish, you’d better match the hatch.  This is about a 2.5 hour drive from NYC.

Difficulty Level:  Intermediate/Advanced

Equipment:  9’ 5 Weight Rod, Weight Forward floating line, waders, boots

Flies: Streamers, nymphs, dry flies

Fish: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout

4. Head to the wild west (of New York City) and try The Upper Delaware River

The Big Brother of the Beaverkill, this river offers big water and wild fish.  The rainbows average about 16” and they’re all wild. Upstream on the West Branch, there’s no stocking, and the browns can get up over 22”.  But if you want to catch ‘em, you’d better be perfect.  You’re gonna have to cast a mile, and the fish are famous for selectivity. This is about a 2.5 hour drive from NYC.

Difficulty Level:  Advanced

Equipment:  9’ 5 Weight Rod, Weight Forward floating line, waders, boots

Flies: Streamers, nymphs, dry flies

Fish: Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout

5. Pros only at the famed Salmon River, NY

Experts only, we promise. Let me put it to you this way:  I know a guide in Montana (yeah, that Montana) who goes fishing for steelhead on his vacations.  And he’s happy if he catches one in a day.  Most of us have no shot.  But this is what you should aspire to.

Difficulty Level: Expert

Equipment:  A second mortgage on your apartment (if you’re lucky enough to own)

Flies: You tell me, you’re the expert

Fish: Steelhead, Salmon, Brown Trout 

Find the Guides:

FreeStone Expeditions is a New York guide company that helps New Yorkers escape the city to discover unique and authentic outdoor experiences combining outdoorsmanship with Catskill fly fishing. They offer full service trips throughout the year.

Get the Goods:

Gear up for your next fly fishing trip with The Filson Fly Fishing Collection.

Quick-drying shirts. Fishing packs built to the specifications of local guides. Nets that are gentle on trout. Fishing coolers. Polarized sunglasses that allow you to see fish and rocks under the water. Our fishing bags and fishing clothes are built with the best materials available and made to the exacting needs of those who cast a line.

Win $1000 at Columbia Sportswear

Win $1000 at Columbia Sportswear

Basecamp Paragon

Basecamp Paragon