Wednesday, April 27, 2016

EXPLORING THE NIAGARA FRONTIER: Allegany County’s Genesee River -- A fishing derby and so much more

Tucked among the Allegheny foothills in southwestern New York, it is home to nearly 60,000 acres of public land. It has a picturesque mix of forests and farmland and boasts nearly two-dozen streams and rivers that are stocked with trout on an annual basis or have been stocked in recent years.

Add to the mix countless other smaller and unnamed brooks which support populations of native brook trout or transients from the larger bodies of water and you have yourself a very remarkable trout fishery.

Allegany County’s primary watershed – and premier fishery -- is the Genesee River, which cuts right through the center of the county. It is a remarkable river that starts in the mountains of Pennsylvania and works its way to Lake Ontario. The Allegany County section of the Genesee offers a varied fishery for even the most finicky of trout anglers thanks to its wide-ranging physical makeup: over its length it sports rapids, long stretches of riffles, slow-moving meanders, and countless deep pools. By traveling even just a half-mile upstream or downstream you could find yourself on what would seem to be an entirely different body of water. And, with 18 miles of public fishing rights available there is more than enough access available to find a stretch you can call your own.

The Genesee supports an extremely healthy population of trout with brown trout being the predominant species followed by rainbows and a smattering of wild brookies. This fishery is maintained by extensive stocking with almost 20,000 trout anticipated for stocking in 2016. A few major feeders – like Dyke Creek – also receive substantial stocking which in total account for nearly another 5,000 trout that could easily enter the waterway.

The Genesee is one of the most popular inland trout streams in New York State and one can attribute that not only to those fine stocking numbers but also in part to special management practices employed by the DEC, which are highlighted by a year-round season and a no-kill zone.

The seasonal trout angling regulations on the Genesee are in stark contrast to the rest of the county and most of New York State which generally follow the April 1 to October 15 standard. From the dam in Belmont upstream to the Pennsylvania state line you may fish for trout year-round on the "Gennie". For most of that stretch, there is a daily creel limit of 5 fish, with no more than two longer than a foot. This special season affords sportsmen the chance to fish as a nice way to break up their day during deer season. In a relatively mild winter -- as the past one was -- it gives hardcore anglers a means by which to satisfy their cabin fever. As a matter of fact, winter fishing can be very productive on the Genesee. Anglers in the Wellsville consistently produce trophy-sized trout in the winter months. Some of the beasts have not only approached, but have modestly exceeded, the magical 20-inch mark.

There exists within this year-round zone a very special 2.5 mile stretch that travels downstream from the Route 19 bridge in Shongo. This section is under catch-and-release, artificial-only regulations. This unique management philosophy has created a very intriguing fishery in this stretch filled with deep pools and very cold water. The locals speak of trophy fish galore in this stretch and the DEC and Trout Unlimited both tout this area as being comparable to the remarkable trout fisheries of the Western United States. For trout purists this no-kill zone ranks as one of New York’s premier destinations, a veritable angling jewel.

The trout fishing on the Genesee River is such an integral part of the Allegany economy that it is widely promoted in tourism circles. The Wellsville Lions Club runs the popular Greater Wellsville Trout Derby every April. This event brings in thousands of participants from not only Western New York, but from the entire United States and Canada. On any given year, the derby might bring in between 2,000 and 3,000 people depending on the weather. This is a family-oriented event that takes place on the mighty Genesee with all anglers sharing good times and competing for 450 tagged trout which equate to over $25,000 in prize money. This year’s derby will take place this Saturday and Sunday. For more information visit

If you are looking to visit Allegany County to take advantage of this splendid fishery or any other of the fine natural resources, you will find the Allegany Office of Tourism and Culture to be most helpful. They can provide you a detailed outdoors travel guide and their personable staff can direct you to camping areas and angling hotspots. They can be reached at 1.800.836.1869 or online at

Make it a point to hit the water in Allegany County this year. You won’t be disappointed and, as a matter of fact, you are guaranteed to be pleasantly surprised.

From the 21 April 2016 All WNY News

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