How much do you know about the Delaware?

Or should I ask what do you, as a fly fisher, need to know?

I see requests for information on social media quite often: a fisher new to the game or the area, having heard of the wonders of the Delaware’s stream born trout, wanting a tip on how to participate.

All they really need is a map or the name of a good guide.

After all, this sport is not about having someone else do your fishing for you as some of the aristocrats of old who paid for a week or two on the Restigouche only to have the guide hook the salmon he eventually took credit for. Local fly shops can provide information, flies and guides you will need. So what more do you need to know?

Nothing like a bend in the rod
Nothing like a bend in the rod

A lot, is the answer. 

You see, the Delaware has been around for millions of years but it has only been a trout river since about 1968, when the Cannonsville Dam was completed and cold water releases moved the bass downstream and gave the trout the habitat they need to survive and thrive.  And the thing of it is that those releases have been arbitrary and bureaucratically controlled –  and their main purpose has nothing to do with trout.

So if you have grown to love the trout of the Delaware, I would suggest you make yourself aware of what it will take, going forward, to assure they are still there.

Lee Hartman is a lifelong fly fisher…

and resident of the Delaware water shed.  He is the co-founder of Friends of the Upper Delaware River, (FUDR) a nonprofit organization out of Hancock, NY looking out for your interests, your fishing. He is also a guide of  world renown having taken sports from here to Russia and more. 

Lee Hartman, Varzina River on the Kola Peninsula

He has compiled this book (which is more than one story) to help us all better understand the assaults this river has endured over the years: early settlement of the area, pre-revolutionary war, Native American history and demise, the “coal is king” pollution, sewage so thick it blocked fish like shad from migrating through it past Philadelphia and up river to spawn. Hurricanes and floods, Catskill reservoirs, and the haunted house in Lordsville are all here, but most importantly the bureaucrats that need to be negotiated with and the process is revealed.

Lots of bureaucrats.

It’s a good read and Lee’s insights and memories are worth the price of admission.

The Delaware River Story – Water Wars, Trout Tales and a River Reborn

By Lee Hartman, 2020, Stackpole Books

If you love the Delaware…

or even if you don’t know it yet but hope to one day fish for its Rocket-ship Rainbows or Butter Browns, pick up a copy. You can call or email Lee directly for a signed copy and ask him if there is any room left on his guide schedule while you are at it: or call (570) 224 6371. 

Tom LoProto with a huge Brown caught on the West Branch of the Delaware

You won’t be sorry.

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