In 1819, Washington Irving praised Beaverkill River, describing its plentiful trout population, pristine water, and utter remoteness from the chaos of city life. Soon, word spread that Beaverkill River was a virtual fly fisherman’s paradise, and overfishing became a major problem. Thankfully, conservation efforts by anglers and wildlife enthusiasts have consistently rescued this well publicized fishery from being lost to the annals of history.
Today, intrepid anglers can enjoy fly fishing the very stream that made the sport so popular in the United States. With the right approach, you’ll have plenty of brown, rainbow, and brook trout to show for your visit.
Fly fishing in the Catskills Mountains of New York on the infamous Beaverkill River
Beaverkill River is a 44 mile long tributary of the East Branch Delaware River, which is a major tributary of the Delaware River. The River rises in Ulster County, and from there flows through private land owned by descendants of Jay Gould, one of the most notorious robber barons of the Gilded Age. The River then flows into the Big Indian Beaverkill Range Wilderness Area, which is part of the Forest Preserve in the Catskill Park. It is here that the River receives its first tributary, a stream that flows down from the slopes of Doubletop.
At the Neversink-Hardenburgh Trail, the River turns west and enters the Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest before turning southwest and receiving its northern tributaries. Moving west, the River continues into Sullivan County, where you’ll find Beaverkill State Campground, a popular fishing spot. After bending into Delaware County, the River reaches Roscoe and is joined by its largest tributary Willowemoc Creek at the Junction Pool. At this point, Beaverkill becomes part of the boundary of Catskill Park. It runs parallel to Interstate 86 until it passes into Hancock and drains into the East Branch of the Delaware River.
Fly fishing for brown trout on the Beaverkill River in New York
Early in the River’s history, Beaverkill was populated by tanneries and charcoal makers which took a heavy toll on the river’s resources. Gradually, the deforestation led to greater conservation efforts, and the Forest Preserve deemed that the state landholdings in the Adirondacks and Catskills were to be kept wild. After World War II, the River’s large fly fishing following opposed, and were successfully able to prevent, a proposed damming by New York City for its water supply. Later, when the expressway section of Route 17 was constructed along the River, anglers were victorious in getting the Quickway rerouted to minimize impact on the River’s runoff and stream flows.
Beaverkill River Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Places to Fish the Beaverkill River
The upper 25 miles of the Beaverkill River are known for being narrow and being littered with boulders and rocks. This section has really nice overhead coverage, which keeps the water cool. This section consists mostly of pocket water and pools. In the section between Balsam Lake to Shin Creek, the pools become larger, with fast riffles. Here, you’ll find Jones Falls, which offers excellent angling.
The next section that runs to Junction Pool is much wider, measuring at about 70 feet wide. This section contains the famous covered bridge and the Beaverkill River State Campground. This area is great for fly fishing because it contains very fast riffles and deeper pools.
The lowest section of the River has two no kill sections, catch and release only areas. The first is Horse Brook Run, which can be difficult to fish due to overcrowding. The second no kill section is Horton’s Pool. Other popular areas to angle include Painters Bend and Cooks Falls Pool.
Access to Beaverkill River is great, but it should be noted that the upper area above the Willowemoc consists of privately owned land.
Best Time to Fish the Beaverkill River
The best time to fly fish is in the Beaverkill River is in the spring, as the water level can get low in the summer. The quality of fishing in the summer depends on the amount of rainfall that year. Fall is also a good time to visit, and you can fish the no kill sections in the winter when the weather permits it.
Among other things, Beaverkill River is known for its rich aquatic insect population. The most significant hatches are the Blue Winged Olive, Grey Drakes, and Hendricksons. You can also have luck using terrestrials in the summer.
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the Beaverkill River. The USGS stream gauge near Roscoe, NY provide a good indication of current conditions.
The graph below shows the stream flow (discharge) for the past 7-days. If flows are considerably above or below historical norms (yellow triangles on the chart) then fishing conditions maybe not be ideal.
BEAVER KILL AT COOKS FALLS NY
- Water Temp: 62.96 ° F
- Flow: 174 ft³/s
- Water Level: 1.65 ft
Fly Box - What You'll Need
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for the Beaverkill River:
- Black Caddis (#16)
- Blue Quill (#18)
- Blue Winged Olive (#18 - 20)
- Brown Stonefly (#12 -14)
- Green Caddis (#16 - 18)
- Quill Gordon (#14)
- Black Quill (#14)
- Hendrickson (#12 - 14)
- Red Quill (#12 - 14)
- Blue Winged Olive (#14 - 16)
A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the Beaverkill River. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Beaverkill River Fishing Report
Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Beaverkill River fly fishing report and update on current conditions are listed below:
The state of New York requires that all people who are 16 years of age and older have a valid fishing license. There are resident and non-resident sport fishing licenses available.
You can purchase a New York State fishing license and learn about the most current regulations through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Trip Planning Tips
To visit Beaverkill River, you will want to fly into JFK or La Guardia International Airport. If you are looking for lodging in the area, you can’t do better than Beaverkill Valley Inn, which is located about two hours outside of New York City. Guests at the Inn have private access to one mile of the Beaverkill River, and the Inn even offers midnight fishing trips for $250 per angler, ensuring you have an unforgettable adventure during your visit.
If you are looking for a more budget friendly option, you can stay at Beaverkill Campground, which has 52 tent and trailer sites. You can enjoy the scenic atmosphere and a great view of the famous covered bridge as you tackle the world’s most famous fly fishing stream.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in New York
Feature image by Daniel Case