Fishing

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!

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. With more than 400 square miles of surface area, 70 islands, and 120 miles of trolling possibilities, anglers visiting the Lake Champlain Region will never get bored with the possibilities on Lake Champlain, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country. Not only do they have to grapple with which section of water they want to hit, they also have to decide which species to target; the options are never-ending!

A man fishes from a kayak on an Adirondack lake.

Flanked to the west by the Adirondack Mountains of New York and to the east by the Green Mountains of Vermont, Lake Champlain holds numerous state records for many species. Thanks to a reciprocal license agreement between the states, anglers needn't worry about state lines beneath the waves in the main or south regions of the lake, which are below the Lake Champlain Bridge. The region is also home to many streams, rivers, and other lakes or ponds that are excellent for fishing.

More than a dozen state or municipally owned boat launches are ready and waiting to get anyone in the water and provide ample parking for vehicles. Hard surface boat ramps make for easy lake access. For anyone who wants to give fishing a try, experienced guides are available to introduce techniques and provide all of the appropriate tackle.

First class for bass

Lake Champlain is consistently ranked — on quantity, quality, and scenery — by Bassmaster as one of the top bass fisheries in the nation. In fact, Lake Champlain has ranked in the top 25 several times, and was even awarded the number 5 rank in 2012. But if you speak with any of the pro anglers, you may get an even higher ranking!

A fisherman stands in a motorboat, reeling in a catch on Lake Champlain.

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.

The Bassmaster Tournament Series hosts several Pro/Am events on Lake Champlain throughout the year, but casual fishermen and women also have ample opportunity to reel in their fair share of largemouth and smallmouth bass — along with dozens of other fish variations — by land or by boat.

Several fishing boats on Lake Champlain, a common summer sight.

Get hooked on trout fishing

For something completely different, Lake Champlain has a lot of territory for fish species that patrol deeper waters, most notably lake trout and landlocked salmon. 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. Shoreline, dock, and pier fishermen often have success in very early spring, before the water warms up. During warm-water summer months, experts recommend you find them below 35 feet down and most often north of Westport, where the water is deeper.

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.

Aboard a fishing boat, a man displays his large catch on Lake Champlain.

For stream fisherman looking for the other trout species, the region's numerous streams are stocked with brook, brown, and rainbow trout by both the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Essex County Fish Hatchery. Many waterways in the region also hold wild trout, adding to the challenge.

Big fish, small pond

While Lake Champlain jumps off of the map, we never overlook other hot spots, where the waters are smaller and quieter. We love to fish the Boquet River, LaChute River, Putt’s Creek, the Ausable River, and Ensign and Bartlett ponds in Moriah, among others. 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.

Local fishing guides

Our local bait and tackle shops are ready and willing to help anyone see the action. Stop by and discuss your target species for the insider’s scoop, the best bait or lure, and some target locations for that particular fish. Here you may find many local sport fishermen sharing stories and acting as ambassadors of the sport. Or, if you really want to accelerate the learning curve, you can connect with one of our experienced fishing guides. They'll point you to the right spots, tell you which lure or bait to use, and you'll have great fishing your entire stay.

On land, two men show off their catches at a tournament weigh in.

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.

Close up of the reel of a fly rod being held by a fisherman.

Learn more!

For more tips, suggestions, and true adventures of fishing in the Lake Champlain Region, explore these stories:

Five Fishing Facts

Reeling in the Big One

No Boat Needed Fishing

That Time of the Year

Take time to explore

Put it all together and it's no surprise that fishermen and women flock to the Lake Champlain Region each year. You'll want to spend more than a day checking out our wide variety and first-class fishing sites, and we have plenty of places to hang your fishing hat at the end of the day.

Leave No Trace and Love Your ADK

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.

Thrall Dam Pond

It may not look like much on the map, but Thrall Dam Pond is a nice little getaway for anglers looking for brook trout close to town. Located just south of the town of Lewis, Thrall Dam is stocked...

Location: 
State Route 9, Lewis, 12950
  
The Branch

Simply known as “The Branch,” this tributary of the Boquet River winds its way through the town of Elizabethtown and offers good access for anglers in town. The stream has its beginnings on...

Location: 
Footbridge Park, Elizabethtown, 12932
  
Tanaher Pond

Paddling

From the parking area there is a short carry to the south to access the pond. The outlet between Tanaher and Mill ponds is too shallow and small to float a canoe or kayak. The...

Location: 
County Route 7, Mineville, 12956
  
Boquet River North Branch

One of the major tributaries to the Boquet River, the North Branch flows through the towns of Willsboro and Lewis. It begins in small mountain tributaries in the town of Chesterfield. This branch...

Location: 
County Highway 14A, Willsboro, 12996
  
La Chute River

Paddling

This is the lower part of the river, downstream from the beautiful falls in Ticonderoga's Bicentennial Park. After the dramatic drop at the falls, the river slows down to make...

Location: 
Montcalm St, Ticonderoga, 12883
  
Clear Pond

Clear Pond is as quiet a pond as you will find anywhere, and although many hikers use the trails surrounding the pond, very few access it by boat. Use the area trails to extend your adventure, and...

Location: 
763 Putts Pond Road, Ticonderoga, 12883
  
Mill Brook

Mill Brook is listed one of the top brown trout waters in Essex County by the New York State Department of Conservation. Beginning at Lake Champlain, the brook winds its way back through Port...

Location: 
Route 22, Port Henry, 12974
  
Long Pond

The mountains look down on some incredible fishing in this most scenic, and tranquil, location.

Size: 400 acres.

Species: smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, yellow perch...

Location: 
Route 22, Willsboro, 12996
  
Putts Creek

Fishing

This stream boasts great rainbow, brook and brown trout.

Beginning at Penfield Pond in the hamlet of Ironville within the Town of Crown Point, Putts Creek empties into Lake...

Location: 
County Route 2, Crown Point, 12928
  
Crane Pond

Crane Pond is a beautiful gem in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness. 

How to get there

Take Route 74 from Ticonderoga to Route 9. Follow Route 9 south, toward Schroon Lake. In just over a...

Location: 
763 Putts Pond Road, Ticonderoga, 12883
  
Lake Champlain, the lake

Lake Champlain is our own Great Lake: it borders two countries, two states, is 122 miles long, has hundreds miles of shoreline, and is home to over 80 species of fish. It is a four-season...

Location: 
Rte 22, Westport, 12993
  
Boquet River Main Stem

The Main Stem of the Boquet, the steepest river in New York state in terms of vertical drop from its origins to where it empties into Lake Champlain, begins in the upper reaches of Dix Mountain in...

Location: 
length of Essex County, Willsboro, 12996
  
Mill and Murray Ponds

Paddling

How to Get There: From the intersection of County Route 6 and 7 in Mineville, follow County Route 7 toward Elizabethtown. Continue for about 3 miles to a faint dirt access road...

Location: 
County Route 7, Mineville, 12956
  
Chilson Brook

Just west of the town of Ticonderoga, Chilson Brook is one of those small Adirondack brook trout streams that can easily be overlooked. The state stocks the stream, a tributary of Trout Brook,...

Location: 
County Highway 74, Ticonderoga, 12883
  
Black River

Another of those Adirondack brook trout streams that flies under the radar, the Black River receives a good stocking from both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the...

Location: 
4363 Lincoln Pond Road, Elizabethtown, 12932
  
Putnam Pond State Campground

Camping

Large, well-forested campsites with lots of privacy. This is a key start-off point for hiking in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area.

Choose from interior site camping, which...

Location: 
763 Putts Pond Road, Ticonderoga, 12883
  
Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake is a beautiful spot that sits right alongside Route 74 between Ticonderoga and Schroon Lake. Visitors can boat, paddle, fish, and even camp at this scenic spot. It is approximately 420-...

Location: 
Route 74, Ticonderoga, 12883
  
Spruce Mill Brook

Spruce Mill Brook is a major tributary to the Boquet River and features stocked brook and brown trout. The brook begins as a series of small feeder streams in the town of Lewis and joins the North...

Location: 
Dixon Road, Lewis, 12950
  
Lincoln Pond

Lincoln Pond is a great fishing spot in the Lake Champlain Region! Cast a line and catch tiger muskellunge, northern pike, bass, panfish, or bullhead. If fishing isn't your thing, it's also a...

Location: 
4363 Lincoln Pond Road, Elizabethtown, 12932
  
Russett Pond

Paddling

Getting there: From the intersection of County Route 6 and 7 in Mineville, follow County Route 7 toward Elizabethtown. Continue for about 3.5 miles to a fairly large dirt pull...

Location: 
County Route 7, Mineville, 12956
  
Willsboro Bay

This lovely bay can offer a sheltered area when Lake Champlain is stirred up by wind. A marina with rentals is located on the shore for those who want to get out and fish the center but do not own...

Location: 
Marina Road, Willsboro, 12996
  
Bulwagga Bay

This lovely bay is rumored to be the home of Champ, the Lake Champlain monster because of the many "...

Location: 
Bulwagga Bay Dr, Port Henry, 12974
  
Putnam Pond and North Pond

Several trails can be accessed from the shore of the ponds including Treadway Mountain, which is a wonderful hike with outstanding views.

Ice fishing

Popular with ice anglers. The...

Location: 
Putts Pond Road, Ticonderoga, 12883
  
Eastern View Outfitters

“Success afield is our business.” Eastern View Outfitters, LLC is a fully licensed and insured outdoor guide service specializing in guided duck & goose hunts, spring turkey hunts, guided...

Location: 
POB 2326
Plattsburgh, Port Henry, 12974
  
F.M.B. Bait and Tackle
Location: 
4133 Main Street, Port Henry, 12974
  
Fins and Grins

Join Captain Bob for world class fishing on Lake Champlain this summer! Specializing in salmon and trout fishing charters, Captain Bob has decades of experience and is an active member of the...

Location: 
23 Lakeshore Road, Westport, 12993
  
Norm's Bait & Tackle
Location: 
286 Bridge Road, Crown Point, 12928