100 Best: Willowemoc Creek
Location: Southern Catskills
Type of stream: Freestone
Angling methods: Fly, Spin
Species: Browns, Rainbows, Brookies
Supporting Services: Roscoe, Livingston Manor
Short take: As finely intimate stream as you’ll encounter near New York City.
Handicapped Access: Ample
Closest TU Chapter: Beamoc
Though 25 million Americans live within a few hours’ drive of the Willowemoc, mid-week, even at times of famous hatches, you may find no cars in public access parking lots…nearly a dozen of them…along this creek. Over the years, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has secured Public Fishing Rights, that is 33-foot wide permanent access easements, to several miles of the creek. The only caveat is that they be used for fishing only and the rights of the landowners be protected.
The Willow is much smaller than the Beaver Kill. It’s perfect for an 8-foot 4 weight. Head for its upper most reaches. Of particular attraction is the milage upstream from the hamlet of Debruce. There woods flank both sides. The bottom is paved with small rocks and here and there ledges head small pools. Short precise casts are the order of the day. When I’m fishing the Catskills and looking for solitude, I’m most apt to find it here.
If you go, pause at Livingston Manor and visit the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum. Here you’ll meet the pioneers of American dry fly angling: Theodore Gordon, Edward R. Hewitt, and George LaBranche. You’ll run into as well Ray Bergman, Hiram Leonard, Roy Steenrood, and Sparse Grey Hackle whose wife, Louise, new him first as Alfred W. Miller. One are flies of the region’s legendary fly-tiers – Wulff, Walt and Winne Dette, and Harry and Elsie Darbee.