Interior Adirondack Ice Fishing Waters
Last winter was a long haul for most of us, but all of those weeks of cold, blustery weather produced one of the longest ice fishing seasons that we have had in a long time. While this winter’s weather is anyone’s guess, one thing is for sure, there is no end to the places you can spend your winter fishing in the Adirondacks.
We have some big name ice fishing venues up here; in fact there are so many places to ice fish in the Adirondacks that you can easily go somewhere different each weekend. Many of these fisheries are a combination of warmwater and coldwater species. There are plenty of places where you can jig for lake trout, set out tip-ups for pike, and catch a few panfish all on the same lake!
In Fulton County, there are a number of ice fishing venues, and the one that gets the most publicity is Great Sacandaga Lake where there are annual ice fishing contests that draw anglers by the thousands. The interesting thing is that there are many great lakes there that get very little publicity.
One lake that I have fished more in recent years is Caroga Lake. Caroga Lake is located along Route 29A, just to the north and west of Gloversville. The lake actually has an east and west side that is divided by Route 10, and the two lakes are very different in terms of the fish species found within them. The west lake is home to splake, smelt, and a variety of warmwater species including smallmouth bass, panfish, and perch. The east lake is more of a warm water fishery with largemouth bass, plenty of bluegills, perch, and pickerel. Nearby Pecks Lake is also worth a try. There is a general store at the Caroga Lake Marina that carries bait.
One place I want to get to this winter in Hamilton County is Indian Lake. Located just south of the hamlet of Indian Lake along Route 30, Indian Lake is another fishing spot with a wide variety of species. Trout anglers will find lakers, brown trout and some brook trout, and there are also northern pike and lake whitefish. Indian Lake also has perch, rainbow smelt, and sunfish to round things out.
The lake trout and lake whitefish are located in the northern part of the lake in the deeper basin near the hamlet of Sabael, which is midway down the lake along Route 30. The southern end of the lake is popular with ice anglers, and this is the area where pike anglers concentrate. Keep in mind that because it runs north and south, plus being quite long, Indian Lake is going to be a tough venue on a nasty windy day during the winter.
A short distance up the road from Indian Lake is another spot worth investigating. Blue Mountain Lake is a beautiful place along Route 28, and it has decent numbers of trout, salmon, smelt, panfish, and perch. The difficulty is that there isn’t a public boat launch there or easy spot for access although there is some state land around the lake.
Most of the ice fishermen visiting Warren County head for Lake George, and rightly so; but there are other great places to try there. Brant Lake is one that comes to mind. Located in the Town of Horicon along Route 8, just off of the Northway, Brant Lake has a prolific fishery. Brant Lake also has public access near the boat launch off of Route 8. The lake has rainbow and brown trout plus perch and panfish to round things out in the winter. Brant Lake has a prolific warmwater fishery, but it gives up a few nice trout each winter.
Essex County is interesting because most of the ice fishing action that you hear about from the county involves Schroon Lake or Lake Champlain, but there are loads of smaller interior waters that are open to the public and produce great winter fishing. Here’s a look at just a couple of them.
Eagle Lake is a two-story fishery where you can try for both coldwater species like brown trout and for warm water species like northern pike. The pike can be tough to catch, but they are there if you work for them. There is a DEC launch site in the southern end of the lake along Route 74 where anglers gain access during the winter.
Paradox Lake is another spot worth trying in Essex County. Paradox is an interesting lake where you can catch lake trout through the ice in the winter, one of several lakes like this in the Adirondacks.
Paradox Lake is just east of Severence on Route 74, and access is at the DEC Launch Site. In addition to the native lake trout, rainbows are stocked there and there was a recent experimental stocking of landlocked salmon. The lake also has pike and pickerel plus panfish and perch.
To the north in Clinton County, Upper Chateaugay Lake is a great one to check out if you are looking for a good spot to try for big pike. Pike were illegally introduced to the lake and have taken hold. Upper Chateaugay is located along Route 374 near Merrill. There is a state boat launch on Route 374 at the north end of the lake.
In addition to the pike, Upper Chateaugay Lake offers the possibility of three trout species including lakers, landlocked salmon, and some rainbows. The lake also has panfish including rainbow smelt, yellow perch, sunfish and rock bass.
Chazy Lake, near the now famous Dannemora, is another lake with both trout and warmwater species. The lake contains lake trout, landlocked salmon, and rainbows. It also has northern pike, perch, rainbow smelt, and sunfish. Perch are one of the star species in Chazy Lake, and they are quite abundant and a lot of fun to jig up on a nice day.
Before you head out to get on the ice, remember to check the fishing regulations booklet or go on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov. Most of these waters have specific special regulations including size and creel limits. Also be aware of the regulations regarding the use of baitfish and the general ice fishing regulations as well. Simple things like setting out too many tip-ups result in plenty of tickets on our lakes. Take the time to check the regulations for each water you want to fish.
These fishing destinations are not as well known as the big name lakes in the Adirondacks, but they certainly offer the same amount of fun!
Rob Streeter enjoys fly fishing for many species, especially in the Adirondacks. He is the outdoor columnist for the Albany Times Union and freelances for several publications, including Lake Ontario Outdoors and Adirondack Outdoors magazine. He is a member of the NYS Outdoor Writers’ Association and the Outdoor Writers’ Association of America. He is the author of “Fly fishing for Panfish” and has produced a new DVD “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass.”