Adirondack waters and the
best fly fishing opportunities
By Joeseph Hackett
Spring, summer, fall and winter; brook trout, brown trout, lake
trout and rainbows. Coho, Chinook, kokanee and landlocked salmon.
For what more could a fisherman ask? Clean, clear lakes and streams
all across upstate New York offer fishermen a fantastic selection
of fine trout and salmon fishing. And what's even better, it's no
more than a day's drive from most points in the northeast.
The major problem facing anglers in New York is what to fish
for. It may be the legendary brown trout of the world renowned
Catskill streams, or the tackle busting Chinook, coho and steelhead
in the many Great Lake tributaries, leaping landlocks from Lake
Champlain and tribs, or beautiful brook trout in the stillness
of remote Adirondack ponds. The choices are many and the variety
of landscapes too numerous to mention. The Adirondack Park, a
six-million acre park of public and private lands, boasts over
2300 lakes and ponds, as well as 30,000 miles of river and streams.
This does not include Lake Ontario, nor Lake Champlain, the sixth
largest lake in the U.S. With such an abundance of waters and
an active stocking program by both state and county agencies,
the fishing opportunities are truly great in New York State.
Because there are a large number of fisheries available in New
York State, it is best to concentrate on a special area of the
state. Therefore, the focus of this article will be on Adirondack
waters and the best fly fishing opportunities.
The Adirondack Park is laced with streams, nearly all clear,
clean and pollution free. Fed mainly by springs, these mountain
waterways are high in mineral content and are highly conducive
to fly fishing. The waters stay much colder throughout the summer
than waters in the southern part of the state; and the temperatures
help to keep the fish active for the majority of the season.
The two "big name" rivers in the Park remain the West
Branch of the AuSable and the west Canada Creek, renowned, respectively,
for trophy brown trout and fine brook trout and fine brook trout
fishing. Many other waters exist, and offer as fine an experience
of the fly fisherman as the two "big name" rivers. In
recent years, a sensational item has put the Adirondack watersheds
at the heart of a biter controversy. The controversy is as delicate
and involved, for political and financial reasons, as the abortion
issue or capital punishment. Yet, it lacks the emotional involvement
of these other major areas of debate. The fact is, as the controversy
rages on in Washington, New York, Canada, and throughout the Ohio
River Valley, all the while acid rain continues to fall in the
Adirondacks. Acid rain, the name alone conjures up thoughts of
poison falling form the sky. It is a very dangerous environmental
problem that needs to be addressed immediately, However, our present
administration would rather take a - pay me now, or pay me later
stance on the issue, preferring the latter, and calling for more
studies to truly identify the source of the problems. Meanwhile,
pollutants from the smoke stacks in the Ohio River Valley continue
to be dumped into the atmosphere and carried on the winds to fall
as acid rain on the waters of the Adirondacks, Vermont, Canada
and the rest of the Northeast. The situation is not as drastic
as it may seem. News stories of "over 200 dead lakes" in the Adirondacks
sound terrible, yet when one realizes this is less than 10% of
the total waters in the Park, it doesn't quite carry the impact.
The area suffering the most is the southwest quadrant of the Park,
and the high altitude (3000 ft. +) lakes and ponds. Other waters
remain outstanding fisheries, and show no signs of the acid rain
problem. Acid rain has a positive effect as well. Because it is
a sensational item, it receives tremendous press coverage, leading
many to believe all Adirondack waters are dead. This is far from
the truth, yet it has dropped fishing pressure greatly across
the Park. As a result, there are many fine fishing waters that
rarely get to wet a line throughout the season. If remoteness
is an important part of your fishing experience, then the Park's
waters are for you. Opportunities exist to fish by float plane
trip, horseback, backpacking, and canoe. Remote ponds, tumbling
mountain creeks, large lazy rivers, large lakes and beautiful
clear streams await the angler.
Some of the best trout streams in the Park are as follows:
The West Branch of the AuSable - Rated N.Y. State's top
trout stream, many believe it the finest in the East. People travel
from across the country, and around the world to fish for AuSable
browns, brook and rainbow trout. The river drops over 4000 feet
in its 45-mile course from the shoulders of Mt. Marcy, near Lake
Placid, to Lake Chaplain. It is a rugged stream with deep pools,
and a great deal of pocket water and eddies formed by its large
boulder formations. The west Branch AuSable flows from the outskirts
of Lake Placid Village through Wilmington, where there is a 2.2-mile
trophy trout section, for artificial only, down to Haselton, and
finally meets up with the East Branch in the town of AuSable Forks
to form the main flow of the AuSable River. The West Branch AuSable
remains the most heavily stocked stream in the state and quite
possible the most scenic.
The East Branch of the AuSable - Flowing out of the AuSable
Lakes above Keene Valley, this little sister of the West Branch
is often overshadowed by it. Yet it proves to be a productive
in quantity of fish as the West Branch, if not quality. An easily
waded stream, passing through meadow land, it traces its lazy
flow from Keene Valley to Keene, then on to Upper Jay and Jay
before joining up in AuSable Forks with the West Branch. The main
flow of the AuSable, from the Forks down to Lake Champlain, offers
some deep holes and fine canoe float opportunities.
The Saranac River and its North Branch offer further fisheries.
Flowing from the village of Saranac Lake to Bloomingdale over
dams at Union Falls and Franklin Falls, the Saranac meets the
North Branch in the town of Clayburg. It holds large browns, rainbows
and brook trout in its tributaries. The North Branch also offers
a trophy trout section, for artificial only, between Vermontville
and Riverview on Route 3. It is a very productive river, remaining
quite cold throughout the season.
The Bouquet River flows from high in the Dix Range, through
large boulder formations to the town of New Russia. It is one
of my favorite fisheries, and receives little, if any, pressure
form fishermen from outside the area. It holds excellent brook
trout in its headwaters, and opens up to outstanding brown and
rainbow territory as it winds its way from Elizabethtown, to Wadhams
and on to Willsboro where it empties into Lake Champlain. This
fine fishery is only getting better with age, and an active salmon
restocking program has restored a once great river with a native
fish. Each spring and fall the lower sections, about 30 miles
of the river, offer landlocked salmon in the 6 to 12-pound range.
It is an easy river to wade and is accessible by the roadside
for nearly its entire course.
The Salmon River - Flowing from near Look Lake towards
Malone, it is a well stocked, small stream with a good population
of browns, rainbows, and brook trout. Tributaries offer fine midsummer
brook trout fishing.
The Schroon River begins out of the town of North Hudson,
and continues to drain into Schroon Lake. The outlet of the lake
joins the main flow which continues on through Chestertown past
Warrensburgh where it empties into the Hudson River. The Schroon
contains mostly browns and brookies, although it has a landlocked
salmon population that is becoming more productive every year,
with both a spring and fall run.
The St. Regis River - Its three branches begin from, in
and around, the St. Regis Canoe Area. This area, zoned strictly
for canoe use (no motors), offers fantastic brook and lake trout
fishing. Composed of some 50 ponds, its remoteness and scenery
are among the finest in the Park. The rivers themselves, as they
flow northwest from the St. Regis/Paul Smiths area, contain all
three species and offer enjoyable backcountry fishing on flatland
Hudson River - Although mighty and dirty downstream, it
offers fine brookie and brown trout in its headwaters, both above
and below Newcomb. A big water river, it is best fished along
its tributaries, the Indian, Boreas and Cedar Rivers, near North
Creek or Indian Lake.
West Canada Creek is renowned for its wild brook trout
in its upper reaches. It starts from the West Canada Lakes, and
flows south to join the South Branch near Nobleboro, then onto
Hinkley Reservoir. Below the reservoir the river becomes wider,
slower and more accessible. From the towns of Poland and Middleville,
the West Canada offers rainbows and browns until it empties into
the Mohawk River near Utica.
East Canada Creek - Similar to the East Branch/ West Branch
AuSable River situation, it is a fast mountain stream good for
brookies and stocked with browns and rainbows. Beginning at Christian
Lake, it flows south through Stratford, Dolgeville to the Mohawk
near Little Falls. A good producing, easily accessible stream,
it doesn't see the pressure of the West Canada.
Other fine rivers in the Park include the Black River, the Moose
River and the Oswegatchie River in the north and west, as well
as the Sacandage River in the southeast, and the Raguette River
which flows through the middle of the Park.
Possibly the best months for Adirondack trout fishing are June
and September. June sees the weather warming, along with the streams,
and the top hatches of the year. However, it is also bug season,
with black flies and mosquitoes swarming. September finds cooler
days, and waters, with fine foliage, few bugs and fish fattening
up for the winter.
For more information on Adirondack fishing contact
local Chambers of Commerce, New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation or Area Guides.
| Region 5 H.Q.
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Publication Distribution Unit
Albany, NY 12233
|New York State Department of Commerce
U.S. Geological Survey
Washington, D.C. 20242
Jones Outfitters, Ltd.
Lake Placid, NY 12946
(Guides, Lessons, Rentals)
Lake Placid, NY 12946
|New York State Outdoor Guides Association
Albany, NY 12204
|Department of Transportation NYSDOT
State Campus Building
Albany, NY 12232
Route 86 (Lessons, Maps, Books)
Wilmington, NY 12997
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