The West Branch of the Delaware is located in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. This river system is one of the best wild trout fisheries in the Northeast. Its cold water and prolific hatches create miles of prime trout fishing. Many anglers believe that the West Branch can be compared to the top trout streams in the West. (Exceptions to General Angling Regulations and Special NY/PA Border Water Regulations)
The West Branch of the Delaware River is separated into two areas, above and below the Cannonsville Resevoir. From its headwaters in Schoharie County to the Cannonsville, the West Branch runs just about 43 miles, passing through mostly farmland. Access is obtainable off Route 10, which runs almost parallel to the river its entire length. Fishing is marginal with some wild brookies. Brown trout are stocked by the State and about one-third of the brown trout residents are wild fish. If you're looking for wild brookies, try going well up into the tributaries that dump into the West Branch. Wild browns can be found in the lower sections of these tributaries. To most fly fishermen, the West Branch of the Delaware begins at the Cannonsville Dam. The Cannonsville Dam controls the majority of the Delaware River releases.These cold-water releases keep the West Branch and upper main stem cold enough to support trout all year long. This constant flow of cold water gives the trout a longer growing season and makes them an explosive adversary to any angler. And the consistent water temperatures also help the insect life on the river. Hatches are more consistent and abundant than on other rivers in the area. It's common to see five to ten different types of insects on the water in a single night. Early season Stonefly and Mayfly hatches blanket the river. You shouldn't miss the Hendrickson hatches in late April, which last through mid-May. The end of May brings the excitement of the Brown and Green Drake hatches; while June through August have consistent hatches of Blue-Winged Olives and Sulphurs. Although the water temperatures and the insect life are perfect for trout fishing, these fish are still very difficult to catch. Factors such as water clarity, the size of the river, number of hatches and the well-educated browns and rainbows make this river a challenge to all fishermen.
The West Branch winds some 20 miles until it joins the East Branch to form the main stem or Big "D." The combination of long, deep runs broken up by shallow riffles forms some of the best trout water on the East Coast. The size of the West Branch ranges from 75 to 200 feet wide. Its bottom is made up of a mixture of gravel, sand, small rock and boulders, creating a perfect habitat for great numbers of brown trout. The West Branch has a no-kill section in Deposit, which fishes well all year long. Fishermen should expect to catch browns ranging from 12 to 16 inches long and may even catch fish over 20 inches. Some rainbows do migrate up the West Branch when the main stem temperatures become too warm.
Access to the Lower West can be gained in Hancock by crossing over the Hancock or 191 bridge and making a right onto Winterdale Road. This road runs upstream along most of the river. Most of this section of river is posted until you get up to Balls Eddy. Here, the road turns to gravel and public access to the river begins. Fishermen can park and access the river along the gravel road in the Pennsylvania State Game Lands. The Upper West can be reached off Route 17 in Deposit. The no-kill section and the Cannonsville Dam can be found off this exit. Additional public access can be found at Hales Eddy. The Cannonsville Dam has made the West Branch one of the best wild trout fisheries in the Northeast. It's a "must visit" for all fly fishermen.
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