If you’re an angler that prefers going it alone, it’s important to get the right information. Fishing can be a great hobby or pastime for just about anyone. With so many great places to fish around the country, it can be fun to get out and explore all of the different creeks and rivers.
If you’re in the state of New York or considering heading there, you’ll find plenty of great fly fishing excursions, including West Canada Creek. Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about this destination, including when to go, where to go, and what to take for the best chances of a successful adventure.
Fly fishing West Canada Creek in New York
West Canada Creek is one of the most renowned trout streams in central New York, providing anglers with good fishing for both brown trout and brook trout. The confusing part, for some, is that this body of water is actually a medium-sized river. It’s got a good population of brown trout, which are stocked and range from 12-18 inches in size, typically.
This creek is around 80 feet wide and has plenty of large pools connected by little pockets and riffles. The trophy section, which is open year-round, is considered the best part of the river. This section runs from Trenton Falls about 2.5 miles down to the Cincinnati Creek confluence.
It’s all catch-and-release with artificial flies only, and you’ll have to keep an eye on water levels because it’s a tailwater-- sudden discharge can cause serious issues and the Trenton Falls Dam isn’t discharged on a schedule so you’ll have to take your chances. Flows between 400 and 700 are the best for wading.
West Canada Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Brook trout are also frequent swimmers in West Canada Creek, found coming in from the various tributaries. Fly fishing in this creek can be quite rewarding throughout the year, even if you go outside of the trophy section and venture into the other areas of the river.
Several fly fishing methods can be enjoyed here, with a variety of baitfish and aquatic insects present as a food source for the trout. When the water isn’t being discharged, the creek appears more like a small stream with little pools and riffles. This helps to channel the insects and other food into the existing seams.
The tailwater section does offer year-round fishing opportunities, but the rest of the creek generally follows the guidelines of general Trout Season. Starting at the headwaters in Hamilton County in the southeastern Adirondacks and extending throughout central New York, West Canada Creek offers a total of 26 miles of accessible frontage.
Best Places to Fish West Canada Creek
West Canada Creek can be accessed along Route 28, which offers plenty of parking and direct river access in various sections near the creek. If you’re coming from Utica, you can take State Route 12 to State Route 28 East, which will take you right to the Trenton Falls (tailwater) section.
Perhaps one of the best features of this location is that it offers easy access and doesn’t require a boat. Waders will be fine to grab their gear and hit the water since the discharge flow allows for plenty of low-level entry points.
West Canada Creek has a total of 11 parking lots available and with 26 miles of the stream offering frontage access, anglers will have no trouble finding this location. Finding the right spot, of course, might be a bit more of trial and error.
You can take canoes and small vessels in the creek, but since the levels can be quite low, boats may find themselves running aground quite frequently. It’s best to call for a water level report when you want to fish below Trenton Falls so that you know what you’re getting into.
Best Time to Fish West Canada Creek
As far as the best times to go, it depends on what you want to catch. As mentioned, the Trophy Section is open year-round, with plenty of trout available. You’ll also find easy access during almost all seasons, although winter may make access slightly more difficult on foot.
In winter, you’ll find plenty of great fishing because the water temperature is almost constant, thanks to the Hinckley Dam. Spring is good because of the hatches, but it can be difficult for wading as the water levels can get quite high.
Summer is also good for trout fishing in West Canada Creek since the lake water offers a cool discharge to keep the water temperate. Fall is probably the best time to catch the big brown trout, though, so if that’s what you’re after, plan a trip in late September or October.
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish West Canada Creek. The USGS stream gauge at Kast Bridge, 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.
WEST CANADA CREEK AT KAST BRIDGE NY
- Streamflow: 1670 ft³/s
- Gage height: 3.70 ft
Best Flies for West Canada Creek
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for the West Canada Creek:
- Parachute Adams (#10 - 20)
- BWO Sparkle Dun (#14 - 24)
- PMD Sparkle Dun (#10 - 22)
- Elk Hair Caddis (#12 - 18)
- Chernobyl Ant (#8 - 12)
- Griffith's Gnat (#14 - 22)
- Pheasant Tail (#12 - 20)
- Hare's Ear (#8 - 18)
- Brown Stonefly (#6 - 10)
- Golden Stonefly (#6 - 10)
- Zebra Midge (#16 - 22)
- WD40 (#16-20)
- Wooly Bugger (#6 -12)
- Clouser Minnow (#6 - 8)
Ventures Fly Co. offers a great selection of dry flies, nymphs and streamers that will catch fish just about anywhere. Set includes 40 high quality, hand-tied flies (see list below) and waterproof fly box.
- Adams Dry Fly
- Elk Hair Caddis
- Blue Wing Olive
- Royal Wulff
- Griffith's Gnat White
- Stimulator, Organge
- Chernobyl Ant
- Rubber Leg Nymph, Brown
- BH Pheasant Tail Nymph
- BH Prince Nymph
- BH Hare's Ear Nymph
- Barr's Emerger Nymph
- Zebra Midge Nymph, Black
- Wooly Bugger, Black (Size #8x2)
- Wooly Bugger, Olive (Size #8x2)
A 9-foot 4-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on the West Canada Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
West Canada Creek Fishing Report
Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a West Canada 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
West Canada Creek spans a large area, but the tailwater section is just a short drive from Utica. Locals and travelers can find lodging and dining here, along with plenty of fly fishing suppliers and tackle shops. There are chain hotels, B&B accommodations, and plenty of parks and wildlife areas for camping. In town, you’ll even find a Bass Pro Shops if you want to take a little side trip.
Fluctuating water levels can be a concern on West Canada Creek, so that’s a big travel tip to keep in mind. Fortunately, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation makes it easy. You can call 1-800-423-1742 to get the latest water flow reports for any fishing you want to do within the state, including West Canada Creek.
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in New York
Feature image CC by Kevin Kenny