The Catskills of Ulster County boast some of the best fishing spots in the country, thanks to an abundance of lakes, rivers, and creeks, along with ideal weather conditions (especially for trout fishing). It’s a legendary destination, an irresistible draw for anglers from all over the world. But which spot is right for you? Here are five to consider when planning your next fishing trip.
Esopus Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River, is a favorite spot for anglers. Due to the overflow from the Schoharie Reservoir further north, the 11-mile stretch of the Esopus between Shandaken and the Ashokan Reservoir stays unseasonably cool throughout the summer, creating ideal conditions for fly-fishing. Add easy public access, good wading levels, and a variety of brown, rainbow, and brook trout, and it’s easy to see why this remains one of the most popular sites to cast a line.
In addition to trout, the Ashokan Reservoir is stocked with walleye, perch, bass, and carp. With easy public access, boating docks, and the beautiful Ashokan Rail Trail right next door, the Ashokan is a great place for casual fishers to spend a day with family or friends, regardless of skill level or preferred method. Cast from the shore or troll in a boat—either way, you’ll love the Ashokan.
Rondout Creek and Reservoir
Rondout Creek is a sprawling tributary of the Hudson River whose geography—and fishing conditions—change dramatically as it flows through the Hudson Valley and into the Catskills. Like the Esopus, portions of Rondout Creek stay cool in the summer thanks to discharge from the Rondout Reservoir, creating perfect summer trout fishing conditions. Unlike the Esopus, public access to some of these portions of the creek (north of the reservoir) is limited and difficult, which makes it a favorite for serious anglers looking to avoid people and be alone in nature.
However, large portions of the creek between the Hudson River and Rondout Reservoir are easily accessed and rich with all kinds of fish species, including herring, bass, and more. Anglers can float in a kayak, troll in a fishing boat, lounge on the shore, or wade in with rod-and-reel.
Finally, though tightly regulated, Rondout Reservoir is a great spot for those boat fishers willing to follow the rules, which include having your boat steam-cleaned under the guidance of the New York State Department of Environmental Protection. It might sound like a hassle, but it’s worth it—the majestic reservoir contains brown trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, and others.
You won’t catch any trout in the Wallkill River, but you’re likely to snag a smallmouth bass, walleye or carp. There are three hand-launch spots for boat access (electric motors only) between Rosendale and New Paltz, and miles of pretty shoreline to cast from. Just don’t judge the river by its appearance; some anglers might dismiss its fishing potential due to its murkiness, but below the surface is a whole world of carp, walleye and bass just waiting for your hook, line, and sinker.
Quite literally the mother of most of Ulster County’s fishing spots, the Hudson River is a worthy destination in its own right, with all kinds of species there for the taking, like American eel and striped bass. Boat launch sites abound, as do bait-and-tackle shops, fishing guides, and nearby restaurants and amenities.