Action In Adirondacks

by Dennis Aprill, Adirondacks Editor

Manhattan residents sometimes don't realize that the ancient Adirondacks offer the best trout fishing in the east.

New York fishing doesn't begin with the Beaverkill and Neversink and end with the Willowemoc. While these famous Catskill streams certainly produce excellent sport, so do many of the trout waters found 200 miles to the north in the Adirondack Mountains. Even better, there's an active guide association here so visitors can get help if they need it.

Fly-Out Angling Options

To start, there's a fly-out fishing operation out of Long Lake in the heart of the Adirondacks that takes anglers to any of 23 remote lakes and ponds. Fish range from eight to 14 inches with some four pound trout coming to net from Lower Sargent and Pine lakes.

Spring from ice out until late June, and fall until the season closes October 1 seem the best bets unless you want to troll deep.

Usable Guides

Many feel the West Branch of the Ausable is the finest trout stream in New York, and some claim the Northeast. The river's rocky descent is steep on the way down to Lake Placid. It picks up nutrients from feeder creeks and heavy stockings of browns and rainbows supplement wild trout. There's even a catch-and-release section near Wilmington Notch. 

Wilmington, just eight miles east of Lake Placid, is the center of West Branch fishing with easy access and a host of choices for anglers. Wise first-timers hire a guide for the first day. More experienced anglers can do well on their own.

There's excellent fishing for landlocked salmon from mid-April to mid-May at the Ausable's outlet into Lake Champlain. Other periods of the year, trolling seems the method of choice for these fine fish. Smallmouth action on Champlain deserves a try too. If all else fails you can troll up all sorts of different species depending on the season.

Lake Champlain landlocked salmon.


Paddle Trout

The St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area just west of Saranac centers the action for paddlers in search of trout outside outboard country. There are 58 deep St. Regis ponds and lakes to paddle and portage and all are heavily stocked. From the east the paddlers start from Little Clear Pond -- no fishing here -- into Little Long, Ochre and St Regis ponds. There's an 18-inch minimum at the last.

From the west paddlers leave through the Saranac Inn into Hoel and Long Ponds. While these hold brooks and lakers, rainbows and browns are stocked as well. There are additional ponds -- many privately stocked -- that repay those who search them out.

Rafts of Trout

Whitewater rafting isn't something you usually associate with trout in the east, but you can do especially well in June if you book an outfitted trip. The season continues well into the summer with higher releases on weekends to extend the action. However, the slack period after Labor Day until the October closure may offer the best action of the year.

The Hudson River Gorge's brown trout may be the biggest in the East. They're hard to get at except for rafters, but the combination of modest whitewater excitement and the chance to take large browns deserves at least one try. Then too, since the gorge is deep, it shades out early and late to offer a longer period of good fishing when the light's off the water than you'd find elsewhere.

Back & Horse Packing

These are only some of the options available. You can backpack into remote backcountry beaver ponds and lakes in Essex, Franklin and Hamilton County out of Saranac Lake. Guides usually tote inflatable boats so you can hit the best spots. If you don't mind the load a float tube works here too.

These hikes aren't for the lame and lazy, but they're a solid way to get to native brook trout fishing like "the good old days." Horsepacking moves the aches from your feet to another portion of your anatomy. Cold River Ranch in the fringes of the Santanoni Wilderness Region of the western Adirondacks is only accessible by foot, horse or canoe. You've a couple of options here. You can either go for day trips or take overnights in to state-built lean-to's or tents. Early in the year expect brookies and lake trout. As days grow longer you'll find browns and rainbows.

All of these options top out at $100 a day or so. As an introduction to decent fishing in a "new to you" area, they're more than worth the money. These options are also an excellent way to find out if you're up to extended canoe, raft, backpacking, horsepacking and other trips in more remote, and far more expensive venues like Canada or the West.

Publisher's note: To see what's where topographic maps help. While you can buy individual "quads" for limited areas you might consider the new, and up to date CD-ROMs that might cover 200 or more quads. These let you examine large areas in great detail to turn up new spots to fish, and they allow you to then print only the areas you want. Even better they work with GPS systems as well