The East Branch of the Delaware River is located in the
Southeastern part of New York State near the Pennsylvania
border. It begins some 75 miles up river from where it
meets the West Branch in Hancock. The Pepacton Reservoir
splits this river into two sections. There are a few exceptions
to the General Angling Regulations along its route.
The upper section offers about eight miles of good
trout fishing above the reservoir. This begins at Wawaka
Lake in Halcottsville and continues with some of its
tributaries like the Bushkill and the Bataviakill.
The Upper East Branch has good hatches and a good population
of brown trout. This section of the river is small
and its pools measure from 20 to 25 feet wide. The
bottom is made up of a mixture of gravel, sand, ledge
rock and boulders. Most of the fish in the Upper East
Branch are small, usually less than 12 inches long,
except in the fall when browns run up from the reservoir.
This section of river has about five miles of public
fishing rights, and land owner's permission must be
obtained in all other areas.
The 33-mile stretch of the East Branch below the Pepacton
Reservoir is an entirely different river. It is a tailwater
fishery that is controlled by bottom releases of water
from the Pepacton Dam. This area is much larger, ranging
from 75 to 200 feet wide. When 40-degree water is consistently
released from the dam, it makes the East Branch a great
cold-water fishery. However, the majority of the system's
releases are from the Cannonville Reservoir on the West
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This tailwater fishery also can be broken into two parts,
the 16 miles above the junction of the Beaverkill and
the river below it. Above the Beaverkill, the pools are
long and slow moving with either sandy or silt bottoms,
creating an easy bottom for wading and a perfect environment
for insects. This section of river doesn't have any public
access, but permission can be obtained by asking around.
The majority of the fish caught in this section are browns,
but brookies are caught near the tributaries.
The river below the junction of the Beaverkill is
much more like a freestone stream, and is dependent
on the flows from the Beaverkill. The Beaverkill's
temperature controls the temperature of the lower east.
The pools are shorter and deeper, with the bottom consisting
of more rocks and boulders.
The fish in the East Branch are very particular and
difficult to catch in the clear, slow water. The hatches
are fairly consistent with the rest of the rivers in
the Catskills, but the Green
Drake and Stonefly
hatches can be outstanding. The best months to
fish the East Branch are April through June, because
the water temperatures are most consistent.
The East Branch is a great fishery when the water temperatures
are right. One can only imagine what this fishery would
be like if the State did a better job of managing the
river system. Proper control of the water releases and
catch-and-release areas would do wonders for this river.