Some of the worst dating advice anyone can give is, there are a lot of fish in the sea. Let’s be real: it’s tired, it’s not comforting, and, frankly, it’s overwhelming. But when we use that phrase to talk about actual fish and not potential human partners, the phrase gets a little more exciting. 

In the Lake Champlain Region, there are fish everywhere. No, they aren’t crawling all over the land, but they are in every lake, every stream, every pond, and every river. That means that you, dear fishermen and women, have a lot of opportunities to reel in something amazing. The most important part about fishing (besides catching the fish, of course) is being able to form a connection with a waterbody. When we fish, we learn what the lake bottom looks like, what is inhabiting that corner of the lake, and how we can make a positive impact on the future of these fisheries. There are many ways to Love Your ADK and love your Adirondack fish, but we’ll start small.

A fisherman reels in a catch from the bow of a low fishing boat.

93 reasons to keep Lake Champlain healthy

Just kidding. We aren’t starting small. We’re going big. 93 different species of fish have been identified in the Lake Champlain basin. That’s a lot of fish! Not all are caught for sport, but they all play a vital role in the ecosystem. 78 of the species are native, 15 are non-native. This is an important reminder that we, as humans, can impact a natural system in a big way.

A fisherman holds up a fresh catch from a lake.

Stop aquatic hitchhikers

One of the best ways to do your part in protecting aquatic ecosystems is to be aware of aquatic non-native invasive species. Plant species like Eurasian watermilfoil and curly leaf pondweed grow in thick mats when established and can crowd out native plants that fish depend on. (Plus they can create adverse recreation conditions.) Animal species like spiny waterflea are detrimental to fish because their spiny hook on their “tails” can get lodged in the throats of juvenile fishes. This all means it is extra important to clean gear to protect the Lake Champlain watershed and other waterbodies.

A fisherman casting from a fishing kayak.

Love your fish, Love Your ADK

You love to fish, right? Of course you do! That’s why you’re here. Remember to follow these simple Leave No Trace principles to ensure that fishing in the Adirondacks stays reely awesome for years to come:

  • Know the local regulations! Make sure you have a proper fishing license and can identify the different species of fish so you know what you can and cannot keep. It is also important to abide by all regulations concerning types of bait and tackle.
  • Avoid stepping on aquatic vegetation.
  • Refrain from wading in spawning areas.
  • Pack out all fishing line, leftover live bait, and bait cups. The lake is already full of fish; your garbage is not needed. Fishing lines can tangle and kill small animals (plus, it takes up to 500 years to degrade) and foam bait cups take years and years to break down. 
  • Avoid using lead sinkers and jigs. If lead sinkers are found, pack out for proper disposal. Tungsten, stainless steel, tin, and bismuth are all suitable and non-toxic alternatives.   
  • Respect the fish! Don’t fight them to exhaustion and don’t touch their gills when handling.

If you see anyone not following the Leave No Trace ethics mentioned above, politely spread the good word that some activities may decrease water quality or harm fish (or other wildlife) in the area. A lot of the time, people are not following Leave No Trace ethics because they haven’t learned yet.

Close-up of trout in a net.

Respecting Leave No Trace has a positive impact for all flora and fauna. Alongside fish, Common Loons also benefit from us humans following Leave No Trace ethics. Loons can get tangled in discarded fishing line, which can cause them serious injury or death. For more information, check out the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation’s fishing line recycling program and see how you can help!

Women casting fishing lines from a rocky lake shoreline.

Your perfect match

If you love to fish, the Adirondacks are your perfect match! From brook trout to bullhead, sunfish to lakers, there is a fish here for every style angler. And if you follow Leave No Trace principle and ethics, you are helping ensure that amazing fishing stays amazing for years to come.

Lake Champlain is big, and there are lots of fishing holes to cast into! Take our advice: book a relaxing motel room and enjoy a nice meal between trips to the lake. That’s what the pros do.