Some of the best July trout fishing in New York is waiting for you in the Catskills this month. Our expert explains how to get in on the action from shore or boat. (July 2006)
Summer in the Catskills is prime time for excellent trout fishing. Many of the region's lakes are stocked full of lake trout, browns, rainbows and even salmon.
Waters available to eastern New York anglers include natural and man-made lakes, and many of the best lakes are New York City reservoirs.
To fish a NYC reservoir, anglers need a Department of Environmental Protection Access Permit. In addition, boaters will need to apply for a boat tag. While these tags are not difficult to obtain, the process can be time-consuming. The DEP recommends applying for a boating permit four weeks in advance, and boat tags are specific to the impoundment you plan to fish. To get a boat tag, you must first possess a general-access permit. On NYC reservoirs, only rowboats are allowed -- no canoes or motors.
Aide from these stumbling blocks, the NYC waters and other lakes listed here are worth your summer angling attention.
New York City has at least 10 reservoirs in which the New York Department of Environmental Conservation stocks trout or salmon. The impoundment that receives perhaps the least press is Kensico Reservoir in Westchester County. And that's a surprise because, according to the DEC's Region 3 biologists, Kensico Reservoir is the only one of the 10 that contains rainbows, browns and lakers.
Each spring, Kensico Reservoir is stocked with over 8,000 brown trout that provide angling opportunities throughout the summer. Special regulations apply for the reservoir's lake trout population.
The reservoir covers a sizable 2,218 acres, but is also user-friendly, since it contains numerous small and mid-sized coves. One area worth a closer look is Louden Cove.
Many of the coves in this lake contain fast, steep dropoffs, and it's in those deeper zones that the best summer lake trout fishing will be found.
A good place for shallow-water trout is the point on the south end of the Route 22 bridge that separates the reservoir from Rye Lake. Also try the water along Route 22 as well as the Route 120 island cove.
Kensico Reservoir flows into the Bronx River, which flows into the East River. Two upper arms of Kensico Reservoir contain a considerable amount of shallow water. There are two shallow-water rises on the southeast side of the lake that feature very fast dropoffs. These are good places to find cruising trout. The lake's maximum depth is 130 feet, but it has a mean depth of 43 feet.
When fishing for lake trout on Kensico Reservoir, remember that in this impoundment the predominant forage species is the silver-sided alewife, also known in these parts as a sawbelly. When you're using artificial lures, silver or chrome tones will produce the most fish.
For laker trout, the minimum size is 21 inches, with a daily creel limit of three fish. Other trout have a 12-inch minimum-size limit, with a daily creel limit of three fish.
According to Ron Pierce, a DEC biologist, lake trout stockings in Kensico Reservoir have been cut back dramatically because the population of lakers has increased. Unfortunately, he noted, lake trout growth rates have declined, and brown trout yearlings are being gobbled up by the voracious lakers.
Kensico Reservoir is at Point Pleasant and Harrison. To reach the facilities at Louden Cove from Harrison, take Route 120 north past the airport, and travel another one-half mile. The cove will be on your left. From Katonah, at the intersection of routes 22 and 120, take Route 120 south for just over a mile. Louden Cove is on the right.
CROSS RIVER RESERVOIR
Westchester County anglers are lucky to have another fine impoundment in the region offering good trout fishing. This one is Cross River Reservoir near Katonah.
Cross River Reservoir, with a surface area of some 930 acres, is a deep impoundment with a maximum depth of 120 feet. Expect a strong thermocline to develop, so the maximum summer fishing depth is between 25 and 30 feet. The lake is a little over three miles long and has a mean depth of 35 feet.
This Bedford Township reservoir was formed by the damming of the Cross River, which continues west and empties into the Muscoot Reservoir. Part of the Croton system of reservoirs belonging to New York City, it has one large, spike-shaped bay slanted to the northeast that's worth exploring for summer trout.
The reservoir is stocked with brown trout. An annual spring planting adds at least 6,000 brownies to the lake. Typically, they are between 8 and 9 inches in length. The outlet at the bottom of the dam receives an annual spring stocking of brown and rainbow trout. While the rainbows are the standard size, some of the browns are a tad larger, between 12 and 15 inches in length.
The deep holes in the lake are down by the dam. One good area is the second major bay up from the dam on the north shoreline. The point before this bay has the typical fast dropoff associated with most reservoir points, but the bay has the more gradual break. Across a parallel line running between the two points on either side of this bay, you'll find a trench of 40 feet. On the upper end, the lake is much shallower, and the decline is less dramatic.
The forage base at Cross River Reservoir is primarily alewives. Cross Fork Reservoir has only one trout regulation, restricting the minimum size of the trout to 12 inches and the daily creel limit to three fish.
All this good fishing is to be found just 25 miles from New York City. From state Route 12-B, take Route 46 to U. S. Route 20.
In the southern Catskills, this large New York City reservoir offers angling for stocked brown trout and a burgeoning population of lakers.
Rondout Reservoir is in Sullivan and Ulster counties, with its tall dam and the bulk of the impoundment in Ulster County. This is the deepest of the Catskill Mountain reservoirs with a maximum depth of over 170 feet. Overall, the lake contains 2,100 acres and stretches out to 6.5 miles in length. There is shallow water here but even so, the mean depth of Rondout Reservoir is about 75 feet.
Each June, Rondout Reservoir receives roughly 4,400 brown trout in the 8- and 9-inch class. This later-than-normal stocking means you're likely to find more trout in this impoundment come July.
In 2004, Ro
ndout received nearly 7,000 lake trout as part of its allocation. Those lakers were only 6.5 inches at the time, so they should be reaching a nice size for this summer's fishing. Studies by the DEC have found juvenile lake trout here, meaning that some natural reproduction is going on.
If you're looking for steep contours, work the lower third of the lake from Trout Creek to the southeast. The lake has two substantial arms in its upper reaches. But for brown trout fishing, concentrate along the southern shore. Through the upper half of the lake, the gradient is much steeper on the southern side and not as steep on the northern side.
For Rondout Reservoir's lake trout, another area to work during the summer lies toward the dam on the south shore. The bulging shoreline in this zone has a substantial gradient, which quickly drops to 60 feet.
New York City reservoir regulations apply for the lake trout species. For these fish, the minimum size is 18 inches, with a creel limit of three a day. For other trout, the minimum size is 12 inches, also with a creel limit of three fish.
Rondout Reservoir lies six miles northwest of the village of Ellenville in Warwarsing and Neversink townships. The top of the reservoir is close to Grahamsville. Route 55 runs along the northern shore, while Route 55A parallels the northern shore.
For information on boating regulations, or to schedule an appointment to process a new boat, contact the Watershed Protection Office in Grahamsville at (845) 985-0386. This same office will also process permits for Neversink Reservoir.
At 65 miles, it's a little haul from New York City, but Rondout Reservoir is worth it.
Albany-area anglers should consider a drive northeast along the Thruway to fish beautiful Canada Lake in the south-central Adirondacks. In addition to the sights, DEC rates Fulton County's Canada Lake as one of the top four brown trout lakes in Region 5.
Canada Lake isn't large, covering only 525 acres -- and for that reason, a favored way to fishing it is by canoe. To access the better parts of this jewel, come in from West Lake and the launch located there.
Canada Lake is shaped like a horizontal check mark and is deep, with a maximum depth of over 140 feet and a mean depth of 70 feet. At the northern and southern curves of the mark, the water drops from 20 to 80 feet within a short distance. The shallower parts of Canada Lake lie at either end.
The DEC stocks Canada Lake in the spring with brown trout. Typically the lake receives 1,750 browns between 8 and 9 inches long. Don't expect all those fish to be caught before the summer and you can also expect some larger holdovers.
In addition to brown trout, Canada Lake has a population of lake trout. In summer, expect these fish to utilize Canada Lake's substantial depths. Many of the lakers will be chasing their main forage -- yellow perch.
There are special regulations for lake trout on Canada Lake. The minimum size for this species is 21 inches, and the creel limit is three a day.
Canada Lake, in Caroga Township, lies between Northville to the northeast and Dolgeville in the southwest along Route 10 between route 29A and 112. To reach the ramp on West Lake, proceed on Route 112. At the stop sign, turn right on Route 29A and 10. The road for West Lake is 3.3 miles on the left.
Landlocked salmon, lake trout and brown trout are the featured species in 4,200-acre Otsego Lake. History and literature students may recognize Otsego Lake's alter ego, the Glimmerglass Lake of James Fennimore Cooper's Leatherstocking tales. In addition to the lake, the big attraction in the area is Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Otsego Lake is approximately eight miles long. Its main facilities are at the northern and southern points, including a substantial state park in the north -- appropriately named Glimmerglass State Park. The widest part of the lake is the northern end, up by the park.
Each year in spring, about 4,500 brown trout between 8 and 9 inches long are stocked. Two years ago, some 5,000 lake trout were stocked as well as 4,200 landlocked salmon. That same year, 24,000 3-inch brown trout were planted in the lake. These fish have been growing on the lake's rich forage base, which is more varied than in most of the impoundments in the southern part of the state. In addition to alewives, this natural lake also contains smelts.
The upper end of Otsego Lake is where you'll find the most shallow water. Throughout the center of the lake, the shoreline drop-offs are fast and substantial. For additional shallower water, the southern end of the lake, at Coopertown, is a good bet.
Size limits on lake trout are above average for all Otsego's trout. Under proposed 2006 regulations, a laker must be 23 inches to creel (up from 21 inches). In addition, a landlocked salmon must be 18 inches, and all other trout must be 18 inches to be removed. The creel limit for Otsego Lake will be reduced from two trout to just one. \
Public boat launch facilities are available at Glimmerglass State Park. To reach the park, take the Thruway to Exit 25A off Interstate Route 88. Proceed one exit on I-88 to the Duanesburg-Cooperstown exit. Take Route 20 west to East Springfield, and then county Route 31 to the park entrance.
For more information on the park, call (607) 547-8662. From Cooperstown, Route 80 parallels the west side of the lake.
The largest trout lake in the southeast corner of the state is Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County. At 8,315, Ashokan Reservoir consists of two impoundments. The lake is divided by a dam, which locals call a "weir." It's no low-to-the-water buoy line, but a major structure that separates the lake into eastern and western basins and also offers a panoramic view of the southeastern Catskills.
The lake has not only a substantial surface area, but also some 40 miles of shoreline. Its maximum depth is 120 feet, and each basin features an island.
Ashokan Reservoir contains brown and rainbow trout. Typically, the east basin receives over 8,000 browns trout in the 8- to 9-inch range. The west basin receives approximately 7,500 brown trout of the same size. These fish are stocked in June, so July fishing is a viable prospect on this impoundment. The size restriction on Ashokan Reservoir is 12 inches, with a three-trout daily creel limit.
To reach the reservoir from Kingston, take Route 28.
Neversink Reservoir, one of the most sparkling of the Catskill reservoirs, is managed for landlocked Atlantic salmon as well as brown trout.
Neversink Reservoir contains 1,471 acres. It is five miles long and more than a mile wide at its widest poin
t. It receives stockings of brown trout and salmon and has a forage base of smelts and alewives.
From north to south, Neversink Reservoir is shaped like a large, twisted fishhook with the curve, barb and point on the eastern side. In summer, the "barb and point" area is a great place to fish for brown trout.
The lake's shallow part is, of course, the northern end away from the dam. But along its eastern shore, Neversink Reservoir also has a number of bays or coves that offer quick access from shallow to deep waters. For the best summer salmon activity, anglers should focus on the tributary mouths.
Route 55 from either New Paltz or Liberty encircles the bottom third of the lake. Aden Road runs along the west side of the impoundment.
The daily limit on trout is three fish per day, with a 12-inch minimum-size limit.
The Neversink, Ashokan, Rondout, Kensico and Cross River Fork reservoirs are in the DEC's Region 3. Call (835) 256-3161 for more information.
Otsego Lake is in the DEC's Region 4. Call (607) 652-7366 for more information. Canada Lake is in the DEC's Region 5. Call (518) 897-1200.
For information on obtaining a DEP NYC Access Permit, call 1-800-575-5263.
For additional trip planning assistance, call 1-800-CALL-NYS.