The O boys
late July last year we traveled to the upper reaches of the main stem of
the Delaware River to spend a day fly fishing with Tony Ritter of Gone
Fishing Guide Service. Tony operates driftboat floats out of
his headquarters in Narrowsburg, New York and had invited us to sample
this section of the river he loves so much.
chose late July because we were interested in a smallmouth tip.
Earlier in the season this section of the Delaware teems with shad and in
both spring and fall, trout fishing is at its best. Tony
selected an area of river, seven miles actually, to float which lies from
1.5 miles above Callicoon downstream to Skinners Falls. This
stretch has a mixture of gentle riffles, pools, rock ledges, and lots of
submerged boulders; in other words- excellent smallmouth habitat.
we launched Tony's 14 foot fiberglass Lavro drift boat the water
temperature was 70 degrees - just about perfect! We rigged up
Clouser Minnows and other streamer ptterns and were soon into the
smallmouth. It wasn't long at all until we had a fish about 15
inches in the boat - the best of the day - but certainly not the best we
saw. The day wasn't up to Tony's usual catch level, but we
still had plenty of action although the larger fish had a tendency to
follow and not strike. You'll have days like that!
we drifted down this beautiful ribbon of water the solitude was the thing
we noticed most. Most stretches were not bordered with a road
so you had the impression as you do on most of the Upper Delaware that you
are alone on the river. The action was steady enough to keep
you alert and we anchored in some of Tony's favorite spots, drifted slowly
through others casting to the shoreline or other cover and occasionally
beached the boat and got out to wet wade the more promising areas.
The better fish
in the morning came from around the submerged boulders. Action
in the afternoon was fair but about the time the sun went behind the
mountains in mid afternoon things began to pick up noticeably and the
action also switched to surface poppers. The big pool at
Skinners Falls and around the bridge there produced the fastest action of
the float with rising bass taking our poppers in both flows along the bank
and eddies in midstream.
Over cold drinks
after the fishing we asked Tony about the river. He told us
that he considers it the finest fishing in the east and cites several
reasons to back up his statement. This section of the Delaware
is transitional water. Cold releases from two dams contribute
to good flows throughout the season.
The fishing starts with
trout, wild rainbows and large browns in the upper reaches. It
grades through areas where smallmouth bass begin to take over for the
trout and the lower reaches which see fewer (but larger) trout and
more and more smallmouth. All along the river wildlife from
deer and turkey to bald eagles can be observed. The scenery is
100% beautiful everywhere you fish.
Besides trout and
bass, shad make up a great part of the fishing on the
Delaware. These scrappy fighters are present in best numbers
from late April and early May being the best time to book a shad
trip. The smallmouth which are the most abundant from
Narrowsburg to the Zane Grey Pool hit best from July through Labor
Day. Trout fishing can be good either in the spring or again
in the fall from Labor Day until mid October.
suggests booking a combination trip where you can fish for two or more
species. This can be especially suited to anglers just
learning fly fishing who are
fishing with a more experienced partner.
The neophyte can usually score on bass or shad while the more experienced
angler can test his skills on the tougher wild trout.
Depending on how
you feel about them, striped bass are expanding their range into the Upper
Delaware and showing up mostly as incidental catches by smallmouth
anglers. Some feel this is a great addition to an already
exceptional fishery while many trout fishers are afraid of what the big
bass will do to the trout populations. A side note here is that
farther down the Delaware, striped bass are a much sought after
Indeed, the day after we fished with Tony we dropped
down river to fish for linesiders and smallmouth with another Delaware
River guide. Ray "Peewee" Serfass took us out on the
several miles above the Interstate 80 crossing and here we took smallmouth
and found feeding stipers in several of the pools. Ray can be
reached through his ad in the Northeastern Pennsylvania section of this
If you think you
would like to try the great fishing on this lovely river, you cannot go
wrong on the upper reaches. The scenery alone is worth the
price of admission and we highly recommend Tony Ritter as a guide who can
show you a good day's fishing. Besides being very
Tony is personable and can fill the slower minutes with interesting
tidbits abut the history and nature of the area. He can be
Gone Fishing Guide Service
230 Narrowsburg, NY 12764