Keepin’ It Reel: Fishing (For Fun) On New York’s #adkcoast

May 31, 2019

The Adirondacks boast thousands of lakes, rivers and streams, with Lake Champlain alone home to nearly 100 different fish species, including (as you’ve probably heard) some monstrous large and small mouth bass...oh, and Champ, too.

Widely regarded as one of the northeast’s best fisheries, hundreds of fishermen and women hit up the Adirondack Coast’s shores for action-packed pro tournaments on Lake Champlain each summer. We’re talking big trucks, big boats and big fish - check out this year’s tournament lineup!

FLW angler and bass at Plattsburgh City Marina (Photo Credit: Jody White).

But where there’s a little bit of rock n’ roll,we’ve learned there should also be a little bit of country (thanks, Donny and Marie). And so it’s no surprise recreational fly fishing also holds its own as a popular Adirondack Coast outdoor adventure sport, especially on the Ausable and Saranac Rivers.

Winter, spring, summer or fall, fishing never goes out of style or season around here. Whether you’re camping, beaching or just fishing for the sake of fishing, here’s what you need to know as you cast your line on Adirondack Coast waters!

Read Up and Plan Ahead

●    Each visitor or resident ages 16+ will need a valid New York State fishing license (unless it happens to be a New York State “Free Fishing” Day!). You can purchase a license at pretty much any location that sells fishing gear, like those located in Champlain Centre or Consumer Square. Don't forget to brush up on the rules first!

●    Lake Champlain's waters are uniquely shared by New York and Vermont. Gaining access to a Reciprocal License will allow you to fish freely between the two states in most areas of the lake (but we recommend double-checking just to be sure). Find more info on restrictions here.

●    Fisher-peeps ages 12 and under must wear coast guard approved life jackets.

Meet the Fish

Man catching bass on Lake Champlain.

Sure, the buzz around annual tournaments will have you thinking it’s all about the bass, but we know there’s an entire all-star cast down there keeping the show going well after pro season’s finale. With almost 100 species of fish living in Lake Champlain alone, here’s who you'll most likely bump into as you explore the Adirondack Coast’s freshwater fishing habitats:

●     Brook Trout

●     Brown Trout

●     Lake Trout

●     Landlocked Salmon

●     Large-mouth Bass

●     Northern Pike

●     Rainbow Trout

●     Small-mouth Bass

●     Steel head Trout

●     Walleye

Learn more about each of these sporting fish species and when to spot them!

While commercial fishing is not allowed on Lake Champlain, you are allowed to cook what you catch - but be sure to read up on New York state health guidelines first. Similarly, if you plan to release what you catch, check out these tips.

Pick a Watering Hole

Man fly fishing on the Saranac River.

At 120 miles long, with 435 square miles of surface area and a 400-foot maximum depth, Lake Champlain’s big waves dominate the Adirondack Coast landscape. Not 100% confident when it comes to exploring its waters on your own? Pair up with a charter guide for a hands-on beginner fishing experience you won’t soon forget!

But then, who says you have to dive right into the big stuff? There are plenty of nearby lakes, rivers and streams to choose from! Here are a few other locations just as deserving of the spotlight:

Chateaugay Lakes: Spanning a total of 3,200 acres, the Upper and Lower Chateaugay Lakes connect Clinton and Franklin counties through the Chateaugay River. Small-mouth bass and illusive northern pike abound in the lower lake’s 568 acres and average 12-foot depth, while the upper lake claims 2,524 acres and an average depth of 33 feet, giving way to campsites along its sandy shores.

Chazy Lake: Located in Dannemora with surrounding views of Lyon Mountain, Chazy Lake is well-loved by visitors and locals, with camps and lake houses surrounding its 1,600 acres.The center of the lake is the place to head to for a variety of salmon and trout, with a maximum depth of 72 feet.

Looking for a more quiet, isolated refuge, but don’t want to give up the great views? Try these spots:

Taylor Pond: Don't let Taylor Pond’s name fool you. Many visitors consider this site more of a lake than a pond due to its magnificent size and biodiversity! Known for its captivating wilderness scenery, Taylor Pond is located on a comfortable 10-acre campground, providing visitors (especially families) with multiple recreation opportunities beyond the day’s last catch. Rent a canoe on site and paddle out to the pond’s deeper areas (around 100 feet) to find an abundance of both trout and salmon.

Great Chazy River: Running from Chazy Lake to Lake Champlain, Chazy River is a quintessential waterway for trout, yearly welcoming 8,000 of them to its northern branch waters, including brook, brown and rainbow. Follow route 11 through Ellenburg and Mooers Forks and you’ll encounter plenty of less-traveled public fishing stops.Looking to make more than a day of it? Set up camp near river access when you stop at Blue Haven Family Campground and Resort in Ellenburg Depot.

Ausable River: At 94 miles long, the Ausable River offers a wide stretch of scenic public fishing opportunities, passing through numerous high peaks, High Falls Gorge and Ausable Chasm as it travels from Lake Placid to Lake Champlain. From boreal wilderness to lowland valleys, visitors will find a diversity of ecosystems to explore along the way, with clear public access to the lower main stem of the river at Ausable Point State Campground. Home to more than 60 species of fish, this is the world-class trout fishery you’ve been searching for!

Saranac River: Running from Saranac Lake to Lake Champlain, travelers will find a range of fish and access points along the Saranac River. You’ll have no trouble locating brown and brook trout in the mid-section of the river near Cadyville, and as you venture closer to Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, you’ll likely encounter landlocked salmon and bass (particularly in the fall, although check for bait restrictions), along with easy-access points you can wade right into!

Check out a complete list of Adirondack Coast waterways here. Have a boat and not sure exactly where to launch? We've got the details on that, too.

Family fishing on Lake Champlain off of Ausable Point Beach.


Stores and shops throughout the Adirondack Coast offer resources for bait, tackle, poles and more, so your next great catch is never too far away. From guides to gear, we’ve got your back. So,who’s ready for the next adventure? Happy fishing, Adirondack Coasters!

Alina Walentowicz

Alina Walentowicz is "The Write Stuff", an award-winning writer and content creator ready to bring your web presence to the next level. A storyteller at heart, Alina combines a range of writing tools and collaborative experiences to help small businesses embrace their growth potential online. With a B.A. in English Writing Arts and Literature from SUNY Plattsburgh (2015) and 4+ years of experience in blogging and digital content creation, she provides writing, editing, and visual content services including blogs, web pages, social media posts, and more. When she's not clicking away at her keyboard, she's living life (and so should you!). Some of her favorite things to do on the Adirondack Coast include: catching a show at The Strand Theatre, overindulging in Wing Night at Monopole, and challenging herself just enough each summer on a few friendly hikes and paddles with pretty spectacular views. Know a good story that needs telling online? Hit her up at

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