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Ashokan Reservoir

Introduction

Ashokan Reservoir, located 14 miles west of the City of Kingston in Ulster County, was created in 1915 by the construction of 5 ½ miles of dams and dikes within the Esopus Creek drainage. This 8,315 acre reservoir is a major component of the Catskill System of the New York City Water supply. The reservoir is broken into two basins by a dividing weir near its center. The Dividing Weir, pinches and separates the upper west basin from the lower east basin.

Physical Features:

Elevation: 590 feet West Basin and 587 feet East Basin
Area: 8,315 acres (3,184 acres west basin and 5,131 acres east basin)
Shoreline Length: 44.3 miles
Max Depth: 180 feet
Mean Depth: 47 feet
Town: Olive, Hurley

Access:

Access is provided by the New York City DEP (leaving DEC website). A free NYC DEP watershed access permit is required. Rowboats must be approved and registered by the NYC DEP.

Fish Species:

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Smallmouth Bass, White Perch, Walleye, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch, Rock Bass, Black Crappie, Bluegill, Redbreast Sunfish, Brown Bullhead, Yellow Bullhead, Common Carp, White Sucker, Alewife

Man fishing Ashokan Reservoir near the dividing weir.
Fishing at Ashokan Reservoir

Fishing:

Ashokan, meaning "Place of Fish" is aptly named given the recreational fishing opportunities for both coldwater and warmwater fish that the reservoir provides. Ashokan Reservoir is stocked with over 16,000 brown trout every spring. These trout supplement a wild population of both Brown and Rainbow Trout that move between the reservoir and the upper Esopus Creek, which they use as their spawning and nursery area. Although a former State Record Brown Trout (19 pounds 14 ounces) was caught in 1923 at the point where the Esopus Creek meets the upper part of Ashokan Reservoir, more modest size Brown Trout are more typically caught. Brown Trout in the 8 to 10 pound range are caught every year and occasionally fish in the 12 to 15 pound range are reported. Like most of the NYC Reservoirs, best techniques for catching these trout are trolling with spoons or plugs as well as live bait. Try various depths until you find the depth that proves to be most productive.

The most abundant warmwater species of fish in Ashokan Reservoir are Smallmouth Bass and White Perch. They can be readily be caught spring through fall by casting minnow imitating baits, jigs or small spoons. Although the Largemouth Bass and Walleye are relatively rare and hard to come by in Ashokan Reservoir, trophy or even potential State Record size fish of these species could very well be swimming in this reservoir.

Ice fishing:

Prohibited.

Regulations:

Special fishing regulations apply (leaving DEC website to official Fishing Regulations Guide vendor website).

Fisheries Management:

DEC fisheries technician holding what would have been a state record walleye.
This walleye weighed more than the
state record when it was caught
during a fisheries survey.

A record walleye in Ashokan Reservoir?

On the evening of April 21, DEC Fisheries staff captured a 32 inch, 17 pound, walleye from the east basin of Ashokan Reservoir. DEC was conducting an electrofishing survey as part of an effort to assess the status of the trout and walleye populations in Ashokan Reservoir. Recent angler reports and fisheries surveys have shown a decline in rainbow trout numbers in Ashokan Reservoir, as well as its source water, the upper Esopus Creek. Although the 17 pound walleye from Ashokan was 8 ounces heavier than the current New York State Record, this fish is likely several pounds lighter today. DEC fisheries biologists estimate that this walleye was likely carrying close to 3 pounds of eggs, and would likely have dropped those eggs by the opening day of the walleye season on May 2nd. Walleye have become increasingly harder to catch in Ashokan Reservoir over the last 20 years. Nonetheless, some very large trophy size fish are still swimming there.


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