An evening view of the Carmans River in Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge , New York

Trout Fish the Carmans River

You can toss a fly for native brook trout right here on Long Island.

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.

Getting There

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.


Access Tips

The best place for anglers to access the Carmans River is the 1,356-acre Southaven County Park. Trails follow the river corridor here, and it’s open to trout fishing April through September. Anglers can fish anywhere in the park, but fly casters will want to hike upstream of Cement Dam to the fly fishing-only section of the stream.

From the main parking area, it’s about a mile-long hike along the river to reach the base of Cement Dam. Stop at the pools and riffles along the way to see if you can spot rising trout. Or, head straight for the section above the dam and wade into the northern reaches of the park, where you’ll likely share the bank with a blue heron or a white-tailed deer.

Other Activities 

The Carmans River may be an angler’s paradise, but there’s plenty more to do both on the water and along shore. 


Just downstream of Southaven County Park is a 2.5-mile stretch of tidal water referred to as the Lower Carmans River. This out-and-back section is one of the most celebrated reaches of paddling on Long Island. Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Carmans River Canoe and Kayak, located just off Montauk Highway. 


Downriver of Southaven County Park, the Carmans River opens from the pine forest into the estuaries of the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is an amazing spot for both experienced and beginner birders. A part of the New York State Birding Trail, it provides valuable habitat for osprey, herons, wood ducks, buffleheads, and saltmarsh sparrows. 


If you want to turn your visit into a fishing weekend or a family affair, grab a campsite at the Southaven County Park Campground. Both tent pads and RV spots with full hook-ups are available, and the campground connects to an elaborate system of hiking trails that wind through the park—and provide good river access. (Reservations are available online.)  


We love our delis and pizzerias on Long Island, but Painters’ in Brookhaven stands out. The funky café and art gallery serves brunch, lunch, and dinner, and you're likely to catch some entertainment, as well. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.