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West Branch Tioughnioga River

The West Branch of the Tioughnioga River, located in Cortland County, begins as an outflow of Tully Lake and then only flows a short five miles before entering another series of lakes: Goodale and Little York Lakes. From Little York Lake it meanders for approximately eight miles to its confluence with the East Branch of the Tioughnioga River. These two branches combine to form the Tioughnioga River, which then flows into the Susquehanna River.

Public Access

There is one mile of PFR along the West Branch of the Tioughnioga River. There are no official PFR parking areas, so anglers use unofficial pulloffs and parking areas along the stream.

West Branch of Tioughnioga River Public Fishing Rights Brochure and Maps (325 kB pdf)

General Fishing Information

Stocked and wild brown and brook trout can be caught in the river. With the river flowing through multiple lakes, warmwater fish such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rock bass and chain pickerel are also in the river. Wild brook trout can be found in the upper section from Tully Lake to Goodale Lake while wild brown trout are rare. From Little York Lake downstream, wild brook trout are rare with wild brown trout becoming more common. The lower section is stocked with brown trout and receives the most fishing pressure. Most of the pressure takes place during spring and early-summer shortly after the trout are stocked. Good baits for the stocked trout are worms, salted minnows, and simulated natural baits like Gulp or PowerBait. Lures to try are spinners, spoons, small plastics (2" twister tails or tube baits) and stickbaits. Fly fishing is also popular on the stream with nymphs, streamers and dry flies. All the baits and lures mentioned will also work for the wild or holdover trout which are in the stream. These fish can often be more difficult to catch than the stocked fish, so you may want to try some of the following tips to improve your luck:

  • Work your way upstream (against the current) whenever possible because trout will usually face into the current and are less likely to see you approaching from behind.
  • Wear camouflage clothing and hats or "natural colors" rather than bright colors.
  • Move slowly and disturb the water as little as possible.
  • Polarized glasses will aid you when wading, and for seeing fish and fish holding areas.

The West Branch of the Tioughnioga River is open to trout fishing year-round. Anglers have the opportunity to fish this section during the winter and early spring. When fishing during these cold water periods, concentrate on the deeper holes, fish slowly and keep baits near bottom. Sometimes fishing during the mid-day period after things have had a chance to warm up a little also helps.

Fisheries Management

The West Branch of the Tioughnioga River is stocked with 3,720 year-old brown trout (8-9"), and 590 two year-old brown trout (12-14"). Special fishing regulations exist for trout in Cortland County, so please review the Special Regulations by County section of your Freshwater Fishing Guide.