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Top 10 Eastern Trout Streams  at Cabela's

Top 10 Eastern Trout Streams

Author: Mike Bleech

Northeastern trout waters like the Beaver Kill, the Battenkill, Catskill Creek or Yellow Breeches roll off serious trout anglers' tongues with reverence, evoking images of bamboo fly rods and the early masters of American trout angling.

The Nesowadnehunk in Maine's Baxter State Park.
There are these certain places that, for your life to be complete, you must fish. It is part of your heritage as a trout angler, part of your calling. The Battenkill and Catskill Creek are not the fisheries they once were, but many waters remain outstanding. Here are ten of the best, with a few extras, including some that might be new names to you.

The only native stream trout of the East Coast is the brook trout, and one of the better places to find it is at Nesowadnehunk Stream, in north-central Maine. "We implemented a quality brook trout fishing initiative five years ago on a number of bodies of water, and it's really taken effect nicely. We've seen a good increase in both catch rates and sizes of fish caught," says Don Kleiner, director of information and education for the Fisheries Division.

Nesowadnehunk Stream flows through Baxter State Park, so access is excellent, though somewhat remote. It offers a beautiful, deep woods, mountain experience in a "Forever Wild" setting.

"What it's really noted for is a Green Drake hatch,' says Kleiner, "and that typically comes a little later in July."

Connecticut River
Fishing season runs from April 1-November 30 in Maine.

Perhaps the best trout fishing in central New England is the Connecticut River. Headwaters draw from southern Quebec. Flowing southward, it forms the border between New Hampshire and Vermont before passing through Massachusetts, Connecticut and into the Atlantic Ocean.

Though inhabited by trout throughout its length, the northern stretches remain cool enough during summer to offer the best habitat. Some of the best trout water is between Pittsburgh, New Hampshire and Woodsville, New Hampshire.

Access is fair to good here, and efforts to gain more access are underway. Expect a good mix of brook, brown and rainbow trout. You can even find landlocked Atlantic salmon between the lakes at the head of the river in northern New Hampshire. This big water holds a respectable number of trout in the 5- to 7-pound class, with a few rainbows over 10 pounds and browns considerably larger. Both New Hampshire and Vermont record browns came from this river.

A catch and release, fly-fishing-only stretch runs from Lyman Falls Dam down to the bridge at North Stratford. The Flying Ant hatch from late July-early August is one to watch for.

Lake Francis
One of the hot spots is below Lake Francis, at Pittsburgh. "Spring last year was phenomenal," says New Hampshire biologist Dianne Emerson.

Draining the high Adirondack Mountains eastward into Lake Champlain, the Ausable River is one of several fine trout waters in this rugged region of northern New York. It is loaded with brown trout and the occasional brook trout. "Anglers should be cautioned to not plan on fishing until early to mid-May because of snow," warns fisheries manager Larry Strait.

Trout season runs from April 1-October 15, except in the special regulations area on the West Branch where the season is open year-around.

Access to this river and its branches is good. One of the best stretches is the special regulations area on the West Branch Ausable River from the mouth of Holcomb Pond Outlet downriver to a marked boundary 2.2 miles below Monument Falls. This water is stocked annually with two to three-year-old trout.

The Beaver Kill River rises out of the heights of the Catskill Mountains of southeastern New York, in western Ulster County, then along the border of northern Sullivan County and Delaware County. It finishes its course in Delaware County, adding its flow to the East Branch of the Delaware River. This lower area, close to the East Branch Delaware River, is primarily a warmwater fishery.

A big, wide river surrounded by forest and old fields, it is inhabited mostly by brown trout. Access to this river is very good downstream from the Roscoe area, and upriver near the Beaverkill Campground.

Included in the history of this river was part of the first shipment of brown trout eggs in 1883 from Germany to the United States. It was also one of the first Eastern watersheds to receive rainbow trout.

Trout season remains open April 1-October 15 in New York, with special regulations extending the season through November 30 on the Beaver Kill downstream from the Route 206 bridge in Delaware County. Minimum creel size here is nine inches with a daily creel limit of five trout. Trout fishing is permitted year-around for 2 miles downstream from the Sullivan County border, in a section stretching from a mile upstream to 1.6 miles downstream from the iron bridge at Horton, and in its nearly-as-famous tributary Willowemoc Creek from 1,200 feet above the mouth of Elm Hollow Brook downstream 3 miles to the second Interstate Route 86 bridge, east of Roscoe.

Among the storied hatches, look to cast the Quill Gordon and Hendrickson during late April and early May, and the March Brown and Pale Evening Dun patterns work well from late May and past mid-June.

Below the Beaver Kill, the East Branch Delaware River is not particularly good trout water until it joins with the West Branch Delaware River to form the Delaware River proper. This very large trout stream is floatable. Guides are available.
Brown trout
The Delaware River forms the boundary between New York and Pennsylvania for several miles from the junction of the East and West Branches down to Port Jervis, where it becomes the boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Probably the best trout fishing is along Delaware County, New York, though you can also find trout fishing many more miles downriver.

Hatches are very similar to the Beaver Kill River. Watch for the Shad Fly around the end of April.

You can expect to find good numbers of both brown and rainbow trout in the 15- to 22-inch class.

Special fishing regulations get a bit complicated, with trout fishing allowed year-around, but with a no-kill period. Refer to the border water regulations in your 'Fishing Regulations Guide'.

The Catskills region is loaded with outstanding and famous trout waters, many of which get a lot of fishing pressure due to their reputations that go back more than a century. You will want to sample several streams while you are in this area-- certainly the Esopus and the Neversink are worthy of a presentation or two. If you are looking for a stream that does not have quite the reputation or the fishing pressure but does have top quality fishing, try the North Branch of Callicoon Creek.

Fisheries manager Wayne Elliot, who favors this stream, says "It has a nice mix of multiple year-classes of browns and rainbows."

He says the scenery is pleasant, and the habitat of this gravel and cobble stream is excellent. Access is good. Some brown trout are stocked, but most of the trout here are wild. There are a few brook trout, and bigger browns run up this creek from the Delaware River to spawn.

This creek begins with the junction of tributaries in northern Sullivan County, then flows southwest joining the East Branch at Hortonville, and into the Delaware River at the community of Callicoon. Elliot suggests stretches through the Towns of Callicoon and Delaware, although most of the creek provides good fishing.

Be sure to check the special county regulations for this and all other streams in the region.
Anglers Mike Simmons and Darl Black fishing Penns Creek.
Penns Creek, in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, is a borderline limestone stream, which some claim is the best trout stream in the state. Larger than the typical limestone stream, it can be float-fished downstream from Poe Paddy State Park, near the border of Centre and Mifflin Counties, during the first few weeks of the season, under normal flow conditions. The best fishing generally occurs during May and June, coinciding with the major insect hatches, but you can enjoy fine fishing almost anytime, weather and stream conditions permitting.

Two connecting special regulations areas offer some of the best trout fishing on this long creek. Scenery is excellent through this forested, out-of-the-way area. Beginning at the mouth of Elk Creek in Centre County, downstream 7 miles is an 'all tackle trophy trout' area. Trout fishing is allowed year-around; however, only two trout at least 14 inches in length may be kept from the opening day of the regular statewide trout season, April 15, through midnight Labor Day. The remainder of the year it is catch and release.

Starting at the lower end of that special regulations area is a 'catch and release' special regulations stretch that extends 3.9 miles downstream into Mifflin and Union Counties. Fishing is allowed year-around, but only daily from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset.

Letort Spring Run is not for everyone. It is a most challenging stream that does not easily give up its wild trout. Tricky currents and aquatic vegetation such as water cress make presenting flies difficult. Clear water and wary trout mean casts must be long and tippets excruciatingly fine.

Beginning just a few miles south from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the Letort flows northward through Carlisle into Conodoguinet Creek. It is slow moving as trout streams go, with a lot of silty bottom. Its origin, as a limestone spring, maintains a constant flow of cold water.

Special 'Heritage Trout Angling' regulations apply to a 1-mile stretch. Here only fly-fishing with barbless hooks is allowed, and all trout must be immediately released. Consult your 'Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws' for other restrictions. Access is good.

Though a small stream, a few brown trout in the 7- to 9-pound class are caught. One of today's masters of the fly rod and the pen, well, make that the key pad, is Dave Wolf, author of 'Flyfisher's Guide To Pennsylvania.' Wolf has fished Yellow Breeches Creek for most of his life and even lived along its banks for several years.

Yellow Breeches Creek flows through south-central Pennsylvania, in Cumberland County. Headwaters are in the Michaux State Forest. Trout fishing extends to the mouth at the Susquehanna River; however, the lower miles, below Williams Grove, tend to get quite warm during summer, making it more of a warmwater fishery.

"The Yellow Breeches is an incredible limestone stream. The water quality is very high and the temperatures are constantly cold beginning at Boiling Springs. That makes this a viable year-around fishery," says Wolf.

Probably the best section of the stream is a mile-long "catch and release" special regulations area downstream from Boiling Spring. Trout fishing is allowed year-around. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used. Access is good. There are trails along the stream, and plenty of wild trout with some maintenance stocking. It is a fairly wide stream here, with ample room for fly-casting.

You can expect to catch a good mix of brown, rainbow and brook trout in the 10- to 14-inch class, with a few more than 20 inches long. Rainbows commonly carry over. Fall is generally a good time to try for larger trout, occasionally larger than 6 pounds.

"It's one of those streams where trout seem to want to rise to the surface throughout the day," says Wolf. "It's nothing to have a 30-trout day on the 'Breeches."

Good hatches occur throughout the year. During winter, you can expect midge hatches. The most famous hatches are Blue-winged Olives in different sizes from 14-22 at any time of the year, the Sulphur hatch during mid-late May, and especially the White Fly hatch during August.

"It's not often that you go to the Yellow Breeches when there isn't a hatch coming off in the evening," Wolf says.

Wherever you may go, the Eastern trout waters bring with them a certain lore and a good chance of landing some nice trout.

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