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Flowing With The Current

Four rivers wind their way through Steuben County’s scenic countryside providing some of the best ways to take in the incomparable natural beauty of the Finger Lakes.  

Whether you love to fish, kayak, canoe, birdwatch, hike, swim, or just be outdoors, a river adventure is a great way to explore the hidden wonders and magical places of a region that most people know nothing about which means you get to experience something few people ever do.

“I stopped sometimes just to float with my arms hanging in the water because it felt so incredible.” - Erin Flaherty, 10 Miles Behind Me

Paddle the Palisades Chemung River Kayak Paddle
River Paddle courtesy Wander the Map

Chemung River

Gently winding its way through deep valleys, the Chemung River provides a sense of peacefulness you won’t find just anywhere. 

Follow the current downstream on a guided tour where you might stop on small islands to learn about the geology of the region and local history, or simply savor the wonderful sense of seclusion despite still being close to all the action. 

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle in Flight courtesy Bill Banaszewski

An abundance of wildlife—including frequently sighted bald eagles, Great Blue Heron, and ospreys—and gorgeous views round out the adventure. 

River kayaking is the ultimate behind-the-scenes tour of the great outdoors, providing paddlers the chance to explore some of the most scenic yet seldom-seen parts of the region. Southern Tier Kayak Tours and Finger Lakes Adventure Center offer experienced licensed outdoor guides for river excursions if you’re interested in a little local expertise. 

Of course, there are several other ways  to enjoy this wonderful natural setting. 

Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing on the River

The Chemung River is also home to a variety of fish like largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, and more. For tips on best times to fish, species found, access points, common methods, and regulations, click here.

The Chemung River starts where the Tioga and Cohocton rivers converge. It runs through a glacial carved valley that is lined with cliffs and trees. The views were fantastic in every direction with rolling green hills, rushing waters and blue skies. Since we were traveling downriver, our paddle was pretty relaxing and an easy ride.” - Micah & Jenna Kvidt, Wander the Map

Red Fox
Bill Banaszewski

Canisteo River

For pure pleasure, some folks raft, float on inner-tubes, or paddle canoes or kayaks along the 20-mile stretch of the Canisteo River between Canisteo to Addison (not far outside Corning) where it connects with the Tioga River near Erwin. 

The Canisteo River Basin area consists of eight state forests and two wildlife management areas, as well as a mix of residential and farm land.

Trout
Trout courtesy Bob Magee

Stocked each year with brown trout, the Canisteo River is also home to smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, sunfish, brown bullhead, and common carp. Common fishing methods include fly fishing, casting small spinners, and drifting live bait. 

For more information and regulations click here.

To learn about the New York State Fish Hatchery where over 1 million fish are produced each year, click here

Raccoons in the wild wildlife
Raccoons courtesy Bill Banaszewski

Tioga River

The Tioga River starts as a small stream in Pennsylvania meandering north until becoming a river which flows north into New York State passing through the Southern Finger Lakes just outside Corning where it joins with the Cohocton River to form the Chemung River

Fisherman will find a variety of species in the Tioga including smallmouth bass, walleye, “even trophy muskellunge.”

According to the DEC, “smallmouth bass are slow growing but fairly common in the Tioga River. Try fishing deep pools or areas with structure such as downed trees. Spinner baits, jerk baits, spoons, crayfish, nightcrawlers, and minnows are all good choices for catching bass.” 

For tips and information on special fishing regulations, click here.

Fishing With Summit to Stream Adventures
Fishing courtesy Summit to Stream Adventures

Cohocton River

With wild brook trout as well as wild and stocked brown trout, the Cohocton River is another wonderful location for fishing. 

The lower portions of the Cohocton River contain stocked brown trout and an occasional wild brown trout or brook trout. Some large trout (over 20 inches) can be found in this portion of the river. For a general location map in PDF format, click here.

Interested in trying your hand at fly fishing? Summit to Stream Adventures and the Conhocton River Fly Shop offer fly fishing classes on the Cohocton among other tributaries in the region. 

Kinsella Park, Erwin, NY
Kinsella Park courtesy Kevin Peterson

As the river nears Corning, in the Painted Post area, it passes by Kinsella Park offering a great spot for a family to picnic, as well as wading in the waist-deep water, or even swimming in deeper water (though this is a river and there are no life guards, so be sure to follow safety measures whenever entering a body of water). 

This spot is also popular among local anglers with an assortment of fishing holes nearby.

For more information about the Cohocton River, click here. For information on special regulations for fishing the Cohocton, click here

History

At one time the Chemung Canal provided a waterway from Elmira to Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. It was on this that Brooklyn Flint Glass Company completed the final leg of its move from Brooklyn to Corning via barge back in 1868.

While the canal opened November 1833, it finally closed its locks half-a-century later in November 1878. During that time, it impacted the region aiding in the development of many businesses and industries in the communities along the canal, including the lumber and coal industries and the canal “made Corning one of the busiest inland ports in New York State.” 

Pedestrian Bridge Twilight Skyline Little Joe Tower
Pedestrian Bridge Twilight courtesy Brian Maloney

The Chemung River, from which the canal’s water came, was a wild and free-flowing river until a devastating flood in 1972 ravaged the region. In June of ’72, the remnants of Hurricane Agnes made their way up the east coast and stalled over the Southern Finger Lakes for three days, unleashing an endless deluge of rain which caused severe flooding throughout the area resulting in the loss of lives, livestock, homes, and businesses. 

At the time, the hurricane was “the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, the hurricane-turned-tropical storm killed 117 people nationwide and permanently scarred the economic and physical landscapes of Upstate New York.”

Corning and Elmira were worst hit by the flood. Thanks to the efforts of Corning Incorporated, members of the local community, and federal relief funds, the revitalizations efforts already underway in took the town to new levels and helped establish Corning's Historic Market Street which runs parallel to the river as one of America's Great Streets. In the years since the flood, Market Street has gone on to be a model for main streets across the country

Concerted efforts were also made to better control the water flowing in the Chemung. 

Little Joe and Kayaker
River Kayaker and Little Joe Tower courtesy Brian Maloney

The river today is much different than it was back then, and thanks to the efforts of dedicated conservationists has become a wonderful source for outdoor recreation. 

With numerous access points, launch areas, and trails there are so many ways to take advantage of the wonderful rivers winding their way through the region. 

“The river area is home to plenty of birds such as falcons, mallards, hawks, gulls, terns, sandpipers, great egrets, great blue herons, and more.” - Micah & Jenna Kvidt, Wander the Map

Heron Water Wildlife
Bob Magee

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