Oak Orchard in New York is a fishermen's heaven when it comes to big steelhead, brown trout, and salmon. From the early months of fall to the late months of spring trout call Oak Orchard in New York home. Brown trout in The Oak can range anywhere from a few pounds to 20 pounds and the Chinook Salmon run way over 20 lbs, but the fastest fish in water is the steelhead which takes off like a rocket when hooked.
Oak Orchard however is one of the most crowded streams in all of New York due to it's limited area that is considered fishable for most anglers. There is a 2 mile stretch that stretches from the power dam at Waterport NY to just below the Archery Hole where there is fast moving water that is considered prime fishing water. Often around Thanksgiving and Columbus Day this stretch of water is elbow to elbow with anglers chasing big browns and Chinooks. During the winter month's anglers will target steelhead that will move into the creek all winter long and into the spring. There are two parking areas that the state of New York has available for access to the creek and most park at the Waterport Dam and walk in. There is a large downhill accent into creek from the dam so be ready to do some climbing when you return to your car. The water coming out of the dam is swift and can vary in depth and swiftness depending on the how much water is being released from the power dam. So be careful when wading there are a lot of step banks, which have a fast flow right along them. A good pair of waders with felt bottoms are a must if fishing the area directly below the dam.
Tips for Fishing Oak Orchard
- Look Behind the Chinook - In the fall fish are feeding on Chinook eggs and the browns and steelhead will lie behind the Chinooks which are easy to see due to their size. Drift egg patterns such as estaz eggs, sucker spawn, glow bugs, single egg patterns behind the Chinooks for a chance to hook into a monster brown or steelhead.
- Just Because It's Shallow - One thing that took me a while to get used to was the idea that fish are in shallow water and in a fast run in shallow water. Fish in Oak Orchard call these fast shallow runs their homes and fish are easily sight fished in these areas.
- Bring a Net - A big one and fish with a buddy who can help you net these monsters. One problem in Oak Orchard is the lack of a bank to beach fish. So the need for a net and a buddy is key. Have the netter stand out in the stream about 20 feet downstream then you back up to the shoreline and work the fish toward your buddy who is out in the stream and downstream. You'll get the hang of it after a couple of fish and if you forget your net you won't forget it the next time you return to Oak Orchard.
- Fly Rod, Reel, and Line - Have a good 7 to 8 weight fly rod in the 9 to 10 foot range with a good reel. When the water is clear you'll need to use a pretty fine tippet to keep from spooking the fish, I always fish with fluorocarbon, which allows me to use a little heavier tippet due to it being invisible in the water.
- Bring Your Patience - Oak Orchard can be crowded so patience is needed and be courteous to the other anglers who are chasing a once in a lifetime fish. There's a lot of water and there is fish everywhere.