Rick Brockway

Rick Brockway


The Catskill Mountains are known worldwide for the magnificent trout filled rivers and reservoirs. These rivers is where fly fishing for trout in America began. Theodore Gordon, the Darbees, the Dentes and even Oneonta’s Dave Brandt have left their mark in fly fishing history on these pristine waters. Their spirits still roam The Delaware, Willowemoc and Beaverkill and others.

The numerous New York City reservoirs are filled with trophy trout, but in the shallower waters of these impoundments another great fish lives. It’s an untouched treasure. Because of the colder water the smallmouth bass are overly-abundant and just waiting to be caught.

Earlier this summer a friend of mine called. He said fishing was great on the Cannonsville and suggested that I join him.

I’m sure that many of you in the area know that a permit is required to fish these waters. Unlike years ago when we had to go to Downsville, take a picture with us and get a permit, today we just go on-line and print one out. That was no problem since I already had one. Fishing for smallies opens the third Saturday in June, after they’re off the spawning beds.

There’s no problem finding a place to fish on the reservoirs. Cannonsville is over 17 miles long with 50.7 miles of shoreline. Most of it is open to the public. Certain boats are permitted, but no motors are allowed, not even electric ones. I guess they don’t want batteries ending up in their drinking water. You can’t just take your boat and put it in the water. There are special regulations in effect, so check the city’s website at www.nyc.gov/watershed.

The day I went fishing, we fished from shore in a small cove on the west side of the lake.

It was a cloudy day with just a slight breeze to break up the surface of the water when we arrived. Ed already had his lure on his pole. He stepped up to the edge of the water and cast out. By working the lure and changing its speed just a little, he cranked it into shore. Nothing. We’ll that’s not unusual, but on his second cast, he hooked one a little over a foot long.

Everyone has their own favorite lure, but my buddy prefers a one-forth ounce yellow Roostertail spinner. That was obvious. That was the only lure he had in that small plastic box he hid in his vest pocket. I put on a while maribou spinner and got into the fish right away.

There was no absence of fish that morning. Three of us caught and released 11 fish. The largest was about 16 inches and weighed about two pounds.

That was the first time I had fished for bass on the reservoir. I always liked fishing for the big brown trout. And, they grow big because of the huge schools of bait fish. The biggest I ever landed weighed over 10 pounds, but I’ve seen them far larger than that.

The record smallmouth bass in New York is eight pounds 4 ounces. It was caught in Lake Erie, but I know guys who have regularly caught four and five-pounders in Cannonsville.

So, get out and fish. It’s really easy to social distance and no mask is required as long as you stay apart.

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