Live Like A Local: Fly Fishing in the Catskills

The Catskills and Hudson Valley regions of Upstate New York are hot tourist destinations for their farm-to-table cuisine, music and film festivals, arts and theater, and so much more. However, the number-one reason urbanites escape north to the country has historically been the natural environment and all it has to offer.

From hiking to biking, birding to camping, skiing to skating and swimming to fishing, our area simply can't be outranked — and the international press (e.g., from National GeographicLonely PlanetAirbnb and The New York Times) has helped visitors from near and far find the local best of the best. 

When it comes to fly fishing, though, the local secrets have been hard to come by — and for good reason: the activity is as much about quiet communion with nature as it is about reeling in that massive brown, brook or rainbow trout.

Live Like A Local: Fly Fishing in the Catskills

The art of fishing — or angling — is one of the oldest forms of hunting, and the clear, cold little rivers of the Catskills are known as the birthplace of American fly fishing. Its popularity today "is readily apparent as you drive along Highway 28," which parallels much of the upper part of the Esopus Creek, the main waterway that flows through Ulster County. 

Hours are often spent trying to catch the elusive trout swimming in one of our freshwater creeks, and the patient fisherman is rewarded with the thrill of the chase. The goal is to trick the fish into biting the fly, a lure made from tying together feathers to resemble seasonal flying insects or larva.

With the innumerable coves, creeks, kills, lakes and streams that feed into the Esopus, there's plenty of space to engage in this ancient craft; however, the best spots are mostly kept secret.

Live Like A Local: Fly Fishing in the Catskills

Start Your Catskills Fly-Fishing Adventure Today

To obtain insider information, we spoke with professional fly-fishing guide and Esopus Creel founder, Todd Spire, as well as some other long-time local fishermen.

Many of the local fly fishermen said that the best way to find an optimal fishing hole is to become the trout. What does a trout like? Cool water and an abundance of flies. To leverage this advice, follow the swarms!

Others recommended starting in the early morning or evening when the sun is low; and locating a spot close to the junction of two streams, where fish tend to congregate and the greater depth of water ensures colder temperatures.

For beginners, Todd suggested: 

  1. Cemetery Run, off Route 28 in Allaben
  2. Jennings Pool, under the Mt. Tremper Bridge
  3. Booking a trip with Esopus Creel to learn not only where to fly fish, but also how to do it right

For a fishing map from the New York State Department of Environmental Protection, click here.

For our selectively curated map of the top spots for fly fishing in the Catskills, see below. We only ask that you respect the environment and your fellow angler.

Need More Local Guidance?

At Halter Associates Realty, our dozens of top-producing agents don't just work here — we live here, and love it here! if you're looking for a certain type of Hudson Valley trip or a new every day or weekend home with specific amenities or nearby resources, make the right move: contact us, and Experience The Halter Difference.