Nestled in the heart of the Catskills in New York, Schoharie Creek flows for 93 miles through one of the most famous landscapes in the United States. The Creek provides pure drinking water for Manhattan’s citizens, and an unforgettable trout fishing experience for everybody else.
Because of the Creek’s pristine and clear waters, the trout in this fishery are easily scared away. You will need to match the hatch closely and think on your feet if you hope to outwit the brown and rainbow trout that call this Creek home. Fishing Schoharie Creek can be a frustrating, but ultimately rewarding, experience.
Fly fishing in the Catskills Mountains of New York
Schoharie Creek is a tributary of the Mohawk River and is dammed by Schoharie Reservoir north of Prattsville. The Creek rises at the foot of Indian Head Mountain and winds its way through Schoharie Valley until it empties into the Mohawk River. The Creek is a freestone stream which is characterized by large boulders and pocket water.
Although the Creek flows for 93 miles, trout fishing is done in the upper section only. The Creek is stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Clear water, coupled with little overhead coverage, can make fishing difficult. Luckily, the Creek’s many tributaries help keep the water temperature cool throughout the year.
In spite of its astounding beauty, the history of Schoharie Creek is steeped in tragedy. Two bridge collapses have occurred in recent history on the Creek. One incident was the result of Hurricane Irene in 2011, while the other incident took place in 1987 when the New York State Thruway collapsed due to bridge scour, resulting in ten people losing their lives.
During the American Revolutionary War, the Creek was witness to another grisly event. In 1778, a massacre occurred in the valley of Cobleskill Creek, a tributary of Schoharie, when the Iroquois Native Americans attacked a settlement of colonists. This attack, and two other similar incidents, prompted George Washington to appropriate funds for the Sullivan Expedition, with the purpose of eliminating the threat of indigenous people.
Schoharie Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Places to Fish Schoharie Creek
You’ll mostly see brown trout in this fishery, but there are also some rainbows to be found in the lower section. The trout have plenty of places to hide from you, due to the Creek’s many boulders, but you can find success if you stick to deeper pools and pockets. Since much of the trout’s diet comes from what falls out of the surrounding plant life, look for deep pockets near trees or grassy banks. If you aren’t having any luck with dead drifts, try switching tactics and lightly lift the fly off the surface. Then, quickly drop it back down again. With persistence, this technique will eventually pay off.
Access to the Creek is good, and there is a public parking area behind a nearby baseball field. The best place to fish the Creek is behind the park in Prattsville, in the public fishing area.
You can also find success fishing the Creek’s smaller tributaries, particularly in the warmer summer months and the water gets too warm for trout.
Best Time to Fish Schoharie Creek
Fall is the best time to tackle Schoharie Creek, right when the brown trout are spawning and traveling from the reservoir into the creek. Spring is also a very good time to visit, due to the insect hatches. The most important hatches on the Creek are Blue Winged Olives, Blue Quills, Mahogany Duns, Light Cahills, and American March browns. In the fall, terrestrials also become significant.
Fishing in the summer is a more difficult undertaking, as the water can get too warm for the trout. Your best bet is to stay in the tributaries during this season.
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the Schoharie Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Lexington, 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.
SCHOHARIE CREEK NEAR LEXINGTON NY
- Flow: 94.8 ft³/s
- Water Level: 2.38 ft
Fly Box - What You'll Need
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for Schoharie Creek:
- Ants (#12 - 16)
- Beetles (#8 - 16)
- Black Caddis (#16 - 18)
- Black Stonefly (#12 - 14)
- Brown Stonefly (#12 - 14)
- Quill Gordon (#12 - 14)
- Blue Winged Olive (#16 - 20)
- March Brown (#10 - 12)
- Sulphur (#14 - 20)
- Gray Fox (#12 - 14)
A 9-foot 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Schoharie Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Schoharie Creek Fishing Report
Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Schoharie Creek 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
Albany International Airport is the closest airport to Schoharie Creek, and is the airport most frequently chosen by people visiting the Catskill Mountains. This car journey can be particularly beautiful in the autumn because of the foliage.
Twin Oaks Campground is overlooking Schoharie Valley, and offers spacious sites with your choice of breathtaking view: pristine lake or sprawling valley. Among the campground’s many amenities are lakeside access with a host of water activities, free WiFi in most areas of the site, and an outdoor swimming pool. Hide-A-Way Campsites, predictably, is a little more hidden and private, and is nestled between the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains. They have their own stocked fishing pond, and provide close proximity to the Iroquois Indian Museum and the famous Howe Caverns.
Feature image by Stressmint
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in New York