APRIL 1998

H O M E    W A T E R S 

Home WATERs  features fishing locations in or near the mid Atlantic states where a fly rodder needing a quick fix can get away for a day or two at little cost in time or money



by The O boys


In 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.


We 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.


Woman with smallmouth bass



When 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!


As 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.

Delaware River Map

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. 

Tony 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.

Three men in a boat

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 prize.  

 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 magazine.

Man with striped bass

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 knowledgeable, Tony is personable and can fill the slower minutes with interesting tidbits abut the history and nature of the area.   He can be reached at: 

Gone Fishing Guide Service    

 PO Box 230     Narrowsburg, NY  12764  

Phone: 845.252.3657





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