Chapter Water Flows

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Wading Guidelines

Wading in any moving body of water depends on the Experience, Knowledge and Judgment of the individual and the Risk that person is willing to assume.

Remember to wear and utilize safety gear such as: felt or studded wading boots, wading staff, wading belt drawn tight at the waist for waders, and inflatable pfd’s.

Keep in mind that this is just a guide and individual skill and fitness levels should be your real guide to safely wading and/or floating any river. River flows are described in cubic feet per second (cfs).

These general guidelines apply smaller streams and rivers:

  • Flows below 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) have slow current and the river is accessible to most anglers.
  • Flows below 200 cfs have moderate current. A few areas may create fall down potential.
  • Flows between 200 to 300 cfs can be undertaken by most experienced waders. There are still areas that may be too swift or deep to wade. Inexperienced waders will have to be aware.
  • Flows between 300 to 550 cfs should be undertaken by only those who have experience wading swift water conditions. Preferably, you will have knowledge of the river bottom and would have local knowledge of the river previously. Much of the river will still be too swift and too deep to wade safely. The potential for being swept off your feet is high.
  • Flows above 550 cfs are unsafe to wade. A fast current can be very deceiving and carry you down river.

A Guide to Wading & Floating the West and East Branch of the Delaware River

The West Branch

  • 400-450 cfs: Almost 100% wadable. At this level drifting will mean walking the boat over some shallow areas.
  • 600-800 cfs: At best, 60-70% of the river is wadable. The river becomes very floatable.
  • 1000-1200 cfs: Except for the most aggressive waders, not much of the river is wadable. Fishing from a boat now becomes the best method.
  • 1200-1500 cfs: This is the highest level you should even think about wading. Even so, the places where you could safely wade are few. Drift boat fishing is ideal.
  • 1500+ cfs: Yikes! Don't even consider wading. Too high and too dangerous to wade. Very fishable from a drift boat.

Upper East Branch

  • The Upper East Branch is that part of the river north of NY Route 17 (upstream from the Beaver Kill).
  • 250-500 cfs: At this level 75%-95% of the river is wadable.
  • 600-800 cfs: On average, about 50% of the river is wadable, maybe 60-65% at the lower end of the flow range and less than 50% at the higher range.
  • 900+ cfs: Don't wade. Too dangerous.

Lower East Branch

  • The Lower East Branch is south of NY Route 17 (downstream from the Beaverkill).
  • 700-800 cfs: 90% wadable.
  • 850-1000 cfs: Still wadable in most sections, but at this level the river also fishes well from a drift boat.
  • 1200-1500 cfs: Less than 50% wadable. The river is more fishable from a boat.
  • 1600+ cfs: Drift boat fishing. Too dangerous to wade.

Always be cautious and wise about the river and its hazards.

New Jersey


New York

This is the code and format needed to generate Realtime River Water Flow charts

This code needs to be embedded and the URL needs to be updated for Specific River Flows

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