The Catskill Mountain region has long been a paradise for musicians and artists, but nobody will feel more at home with the breathtaking scenery than wildlife enthusiasts. The Catskills attract white water rafters, cyclists, and skiers, who flock to experience the famous natural beauty of the Mountains. Anglers in particular will be delighted to find numerous picturesque trout streams to choose from when they visit. One of the most popular fisheries in the area is Willowemoc Creek.
With easy public access, and plenty of brown, rainbow, and brook trout to go around, Willowemoc Creek is an excellent starting point if you are exploring the Catskills for the first time.
Fly fishing Willowemoc Creek in the Catskills Mountains of New York
Willowemoc Creek is a 27 mile long tributary of the Beaverkill River. It flows west and joins Beaver Kill at the Junction Pool, which is another popular fishery worth exploring. Willowemoc Creek is fed by numerous tributaries, including Little Beaver Kill, Butternut Brook, Bascom Brook, and Stewart Brook. Many of these tributaries boast a large population of native brook trout.
The Creek has been known by many different names and spellings over the years, with the name “Willowemoc” derived from the Lenape language. Other names of the Creek include Weelewaughmack, Weelewaughwemack, and Willikwernock. Anglers often refer to the Creek simply as “The Willow.”
The lower section of the Creek is fairly large, but the upper section contains more of the characteristics of a smaller trout stream. While sizable catches have been documented from the stream, the fish in Willowemoc Creek average about nine to twelve inches long. The fishery is stocked with rainbow and brown trout, and you’ll see some native brookies too, as well as a rich aquatic insect population.
The Willowemoc Creek also offers close proximity to Beaver Kill, meaning you will likely be able to tackle both fisheries during your visit. The Willowemoc is slightly less challenging than Beaver Kill, and you can plan your itinerary around your skill level.
Willowemoc Creek Map and Fishing Access Sites
Best Places to Fish the Willowemoc Creek
The upper reaches of the stream are located from Fir Village to the town of Willowemoc. This section holds many small tributaries with brook trout that are fairly easy to catch and respond well to fly patterns. The water is clear and cool in this area, and the stream is only about ten to fifteen feet wide in this section.
The middle section refers to the area between the town of Willowemoc and Livingston Manor. This section is no kill, and consists of riffles and larger pools. You’ll want to pay attention to where you are fishing in this area to avoid trespassing on private property.
The best place to fish is in the Willowemoc’s lower section, from Livingston Manor all the way to where it spills into Beaver Kill. This area also has a no kill section that runs for about two miles. Here, you’ll find large pools, interrupted by fast riffles and runs. This section is much wider than the rest of the stream, and measures up to eighty feet in some parts of the fishery.
Best Time to Fish the Willowemoc Creek
Fishing is permitted year round in the no kill sections of the Willowemoc, but outside of those areas, the fishing season is from the beginning of April to November. Fishing in the summer and winter is generally difficult, but it is possible to yield good results if the weather allows for it.
Spring is the best time to visit Willowemoc Creek because of the aquatic insect hatches. Starting in March, you’ll begin to see Blue Winged Olives, and they will hatch until the end of May, then hatch again from July to November. The other significant hatches in the spring are Blue Quills, Hendricksons, and Gray Drakes. In the summer, you’ll have better luck using tricos, Slate Drakes, and Spotted Sedges.
Angling can also be great in the fall, as that is when the brown trout spawn.
Stream Flow and Current Conditions
Be sure to check the stream conditions before heading out to fish the Willowemoc Creek. The USGS stream gauge near Roscoe, NY provides 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 may not be ideal.
WILLOWEMOC CREEK NR LIVINGSTON MANOR NY
- Temperature: 33.98 ° F
- Streamflow: 91.4 ft³/s
- Gage height: 2.26 ft
Best Flies for Willowemoc Creek
Here is list of general fly pattern recommendations for the Willowemoc Creek:
- Black Caddis (#16)
- Blue Quill (#18)
- Blue Winged Olive (#18 - 20)
- Brown Stonefly (#12 - 14)
- Green Caddis (#16 - 18)
- March Brown (#12)
- Quill Gordon (#14)
- Black Quill (#14)
- Hendrickson (#12 - 14)
- Red Quill (#12 - 14)
- Blue Winged Olive (#14 - 16)
- Gray Fox (#12 - 14)
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 5-wt fly rod with floating line is perfect for fishing dry flies and small nymphs on Willowemoc Creek. A tapered 9-foot leader, with tippet size 3X to 5X to match the flies you are throwing, is pretty standard.
Willowemoc Creek Fishing Report
Area fly shops, guides and websites that can provide a Willowemoc 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
If you are visiting Willowemoc Creek, your best bet is to fly into LaGuardia or JFK International Airports, and take the two hour drive to the Catskills.
It’s hard to beat the Catskill Region as a camping destination, with its miles of dense, wild forest and breathtaking mountains providing an unparalleled view and experience for any outdoor lover who visits.
One of the oldest camping sites in the Catskills is Devil’s Tombstone Campground. Despite its slightly foreboding name, the campground is a peaceful place to unwind and serves as a great basecamp for hikers and anglers. Woodland Valley Campground is another scenic choice that is located at the foot of the tallest peak in the Catskills, Slide Mountain.
Feature image by Donald B. Siano
Looking for more places to fish? Check out our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing in New York