Listen up, Long Island anglers: You don’t need to drive across the state to the Catskills or Adirondacks in search of good trout fishing. In fact, you can cast a fly right here, from the banks of a stream so idyllic it gets an official Scenic River designation.
That badge describes the Carmans in a nutshell. The river’s cold, spring-fed waters flow 10 miles through the pine and oak forests of Suffolk County, creating high-quality habitat for the state’s only native trout, the brook trout. Add to that a few thousand brown and rainbow trout stocked by the state annually, and there are plenty of fish to be caught.
Before You Go
Freshwater trout fishing requires a valid New York fishing license. To fish Southaven County Park, you’ll need a permit as well. You can purchase a permit at the park boathouse near the main parking area. Permits are available to purchase for the day or entire season.
From Interstate 495, take Exit 68 for the William Floyd Parkway South. Follow the William Floyd Parkway approximately 3 miles, then turn west on Victory Ave. The main park entrance will be about a mile down Victory Ave.
How To Fish the Carmans
Even with the numbers on your side, the pursuit isn’t guaranteed to be simple. The trout on the Carmans aren’t easily fooled—and can be tough to reach. Oak trees hang over the curving sandy-bottomed stream. The soft banks are eroded and undercut. Translation: These fish have plenty of hiding spots.
That means each cast needs to be delicate and well-placed. For fly fishing, small flies resembling a mayfly or caddis work best. If you can successfully mimic a summer insect—like an ant or grasshopper—falling into the river, you may be able to fool a brookie on the hunt for a meal.
But persistent anglers will earn the ultimate reward of watching a fish rise and gulp their fly. When the fight is over, you’ll see the beautiful patterns of a native brook trout, brown, or rainbow up close. You may even have the luck of catching a sea-run trout, a rare occurrence on East Coast streams.