New Yorkers can be thankful to the Neversink River for providing a good portion of its pristine water supply. Anglers, in turn, can thank the city slickers for building the Neversink Dam and Reservoir and creating a fantastic tailwater. Beginning high in the Catskills, the river flows in two parallel branches until it reaches the town of Claryville and becomes one large stem. The two branches remain mostly private as are other sections of the upper river. Some easements have been granted and are posted.
Famous for its storied past, the Neversink is thought to be where dry fly fishing came into being. In the late 1800’s Theodore Gordon established a home in the area and is credited with creating imitation flies that appeared so real, the fish jumped for them. Considered the “father of fly fishing” his Blue Quills, Red Quills and Quill Gordons are still in use. Other luminaries fished this river including Edward Ringwood Hewitt, George M.L. La Branche, Justin Askins and Phil Chase to name a few. Ironically, both the Gordon and La Branche properties were flooded over when the reservoir was completed.
The tailwater below the reservoir provides cold water and the water remains cool throughout most of the year. Shade trees along its banks also aid in maintaining a temperature friendly, trout habitat. Brookies tend to dominate the upper river although the river also supports browns, rainbows and the rare tiger trout. The tailwater section is managed as catch-and-release-only and restricted to artificial lures.
There is good public access at the Neversink Preserve, land set aside by the Nature Conservancy to protect the area’s intact, floodplain forest. Designed to protect migratory fish, the floodplain is also home to important wildlife including bobcats, bald eagles and black bears.