Drop a line in the
Lake Champlain Region
The sea-cret is out. The Lake Champlain Region is home to some of the best fishing around. From deep corners of Lake Champlain to secluded ponds to trout streams, wherever you choose to drop a line, there is a waterway ripe for whichever species you prefer to fish. You don’t want to be a fish out of water, so read on to learn all our region has to offer!
One lake, all the fish
The Adirondacks are well known for abundant waterways and an impressive array of fish species. With well over 500 miles of shoreline and depths of up to 400 feet, Lake Champlain has plenty of places for fish to hide. In fact, there are over 80 species of fish in the lake! It might not be one of the infamous Great Lakes, but it is, indeed, a great lake.
Looking for bass? Look no further than the finest waters in North America! Lake Champlain is consistently ranked by Bassmaster as one of the top bass fisheries in the nation. The proof is on the scale. The best largemouth territory is roughly defined by the Champlain Bridge, which stretches from Crown Point, New York to Addison, Vermont. From the bridge south, the abundant shallows are full of tournament winning bass. Launch your boat right in the middle of the action from either the Port Henry or Ticonderoga state launch sites. Raise up your gas motor and patrol the sunken debris and plant beds near Fort Ticonderoga. Rumor has it that bass between 15 and 20 pounds can be found here.
For something completely different, Lake Champlain has a lot of territory for fish species that patrol deeper waters, most notably lake trout. After ice out, lakers can be found closer to the surface, but as warmer weather progresses, these fish move farther down the water column. You’ll want to use a downrigger to fish below the thermocline. If this is unfamiliar territory, no worries. Hire a local guide to cut your learning curve. But if you’ve got your own boat, you can launch in Westport, Willsboro, or Port Douglas; all three launches will get you to laker habitat quickly.
Big fish in a small pond
Lake Champlain’s open waters might not appeal to you. That’s fine. We’ve got other options. Lincoln and Putnam ponds both host Department of Environmental Conservation state campgrounds, but offer wild settings for relaxing trips.
Lake Champlain is famous for its lake monster, but have you ever caught a tiger muskellunge? These lively fish are known to be elusive and a challenge to catch. However, they can be found in Lincoln Pond, along with large and smallmouth bass and northern pike. The pond’s shallow waters are home to an abundance of aquatic plants, which the predatory bass and muskie love. You will too. Anglers can fish from shore or from a boat to catch panfish. For those with a boat to launch, access is easy: there is a causeway dividing the pond, so you can start fishing right in the middle of the pond!
Not too far away is Putnam Pond. This water is smaller than Lincoln Pond but by no means less productive. A few popular species found here are: northern pike, largemouth bass, black crappie, brown bullhead, pumpkinseed, and yellow perch. Crappies are fun to fish for and they can frequently be found near thick vegetation, stumps, and fallen logs, all of which can be found around the edges of Putnam Pond. This location is on the edge of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, so, needless to say, the setting is very peaceful. If you’re looking for something even more remote, hike back into the wilderness to find many quiet ponds and wild brook trout.
Lord of the flies
You don’t need a boat to cast a line in the Lake Champlain Region! Sure, you can fish from shore at many of the lakes and ponds, but for a real adventure, don’t pass up an opportunity to drop a fly in the famous Boquet River. Of course, the brook trout fishing is excellent (along with the brown trout) but the real excitement comes in the spring and fall, when landlocked salmon run.
The landlocked salmon in Lake Champlain have been there for awhile, since the end of the last Ice Age, actually. They became trapped in the large “sea.” Their story has a lot of ups and downs. There are stories of the Boquet River being so full of salmon during Colonial times that horses were afraid to cross. With the construction of dams and spawning habitat dwindling, the salmon began to run less and less. But in recent years, the removal of the Willsboro Dam has opened up miles and miles of river to the fish.
And that’s good for anglers! The best salmon fishing in the spring is below Willsboro; fall runs extend farther upriver. Access is as plentiful as the salmon themselves. In the town of Willsboro, find parking on Mill or School streets. School Street also has a cartop boat launch that provides access to about 2 miles of flatwater, leading directly to the river mouth at Lake Champlain. You can also access the river at Noblewood Park.
Keep it reel
Part of the magic of the Adirondacks is the result of previous generations taking a long view and protecting the mountains, lakes, and rivers within the Blue Line. That tradition continues today as we support and encourage everyone to practice Leave No Trace ethics, which help protect the lands and waters of the Adirondacks. For anglers, that means taking care to not introduce harmful or non-native species to waters, packing out unused bait, and washing equipment between fishing trips.
No matter the day you visit the Lake Champlain Region to fish, you’ll leave saying TGIF (thank God I fish)!
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