Fishing in St. Lawrence County
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The St. Lawrence County Angler’s Guide is a 30-page booklet listings species that can be found in the major rivers, ponds and lakes. To receive a copy of this free guide by mail, click here, and fill out the form. Note: the Angler's Guide will be replaced with a Fish, Hunt & Ride Guide for 2018.
Wherever you are in St. Lawrence County, great fishing is only minutes away. From the foothills of the Adirondacks to the St. Lawrence River, the County offers fishing opportunities for everyone. Hundreds of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and streams offer peaceful surroundings, a variety of species, strong fish populations, and good public access. Tournaments are held throughout the year including some cool ice fishing derbies.
St. Lawrence is truly a "county for all seasons" and a "county for all anglers." Consider the possibilities: downrigging for muskies at Massena, ice fishing for yellow perch and northern pike at Chippewa Bay, jigging for walleyes on the Raquette River reservoirs, canoeing for smallmouth bass on the Grasse River, flyfishing for brown trout on the St. Regis River, small boating for lake trout at Trout Lake and rainbows at Star Lake, trolling for trophy brook trout at Cranberry Lake, jigging for black crappies and casting for largemouth bass at Black Lake, and hiking the wilderness for native brook trout swims, or casting that 12 foot pole to fight with the mighty carp.
Fishing Note: When fishing on the St. Regis Mohawk Territory, all New York State Fishing regulations now apply. The Tribe recently adopted the State's regulations for an interim period, until specific regulations for tribal lands can be worked out. These regulations apply to all non-tribal members seeking to fish in Akwesasne's waters. They do not limit the inherent right of tribal members to fish on the reservation so long as their activities are consistent with applicable tribal law.
Be sure to check out our website www.fishcap.net for all the information on fishing in St. Lawrence County.
For fishing regulations, please visit the NYS DEC website.
St. Lawrence River: The majestic St. Lawrence River forms a portion of the north-western boundary of the County, State, and the U.S., and the scenery alone makes any outing a memorable experience. The river is more than 700 miles and is the largest west-east river in North America. The U.S.-Canada border does not divide the river down the middle, so it is advised that boaters and anglers consult river charts for the border delineation. You must have a Canadian fishing license to fish in the Canadian waters. The St. Lawrence River is patrolled by U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard forces, as well as border patrol and on occasion New York State Police.
This powerful flow offers first-rate angling for muskies, walleyes, northern pike, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bullhead and carp along its entire length. It is also has crappies, pumkinseeds, rock bass, catfish, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, eels, suckers, drum, and others.
Local launch communities along the St. Lawrence
Black Lake: The largest of the Indian River lakes, Black Lake has a 20 mile length and 60 miles of shoreline, located in the township of Hammond. While there are depths of 30 feet, the average is only 8. Channels and shoals are well marked, but boaters should use a lake chart or depth finder when traveling in unfamiliar areas.
A fisheries biologist once referred to the lake as a "fish factory." Indeed, this water does hold incredible populations of game fish and panfish. A number of national publications have rated Black Lake among the ten best bass waters in the country. The lake's outstanding ice fishing also contribute to its fine reputation. The Marathon begins in the beginning of May and ends in the beginning of July. Tagged crappie and other panfish are caught, tagged and returned to the lake. Catch one of these specially tagged fish, and win various prizes. You can fish for one day, a weekend, or anytime during the entire tournament.
Other tournaments include the Chuck Waller Memorial Bass Tournament in July, the Big Bass Dash for Cash in September and the Black Lake Fish and Game Club’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby the first weekend in February.
This Lake is know for its largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, black crappie, yellow perch, bluegills and bullhead, and even muskie.
Black Lake has long been known for its fishing and a cottage colony has grown along its western shore and Country Route 6. For information about lodging check out our listings, or visit the Black Lake Chamber.
Oswegatchie River: Meandering 132 miles through St. Lawrence County from Newton Falls to Ogdensburg where it empties into the St. Lawrence River, the Oswegatchie River has nearly 40 public access points Good fishing exists for shore anglers, waders, and boaters who use canoes, car-top boats, or small trailered boats. Available species include smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, catfish, some largemouth bass, and the occasional muskie.
The 67-mile portion from Hailesboro to Ogdensburg is a wider, slow-moving stretch with a vertical drop of only 200 feet, and fishing is good for walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike and panfish. The upper portion from Newton Falls to Hailesboro has a 970-foot drop and is a wild section of the river with rapids and dams and good spots for native brook and brown trout.
Grasse River: The Grasse River for the most part, receives light angling pressure. Smallmouth bass, walleyes, and panfish can be found throughout most of the middle and lower stretches of the Grasse. Some sections hold northern pike and even muskies. (Catch and release is encouraged for muskie on this river, 40 inch minimum length is required to keep it).
Most anglers concentrate on the 44-mile stretch from Russell to Massena. Boat launches below Canton and in Madrid make those stretches attractive to small boaters. There are also various road crossings and roadside pull-offs making the river a popular one for day-long, float trips via canoe.
The Grasse River and Plumb Brook rate highly for brown trout. Annual stockings of browns include nearly 700 in the South Branch of the Grasse in the Town of Clare, over 2,000 in the Grasse River in the Town of Russell, and over 4,000 in Plumb Brook in the Town of Russell.
Raquette River & Reservoirs: The Raquette River is one of the longest rivers in the State, from the headwaters in Hamilton County through St. Lawrence, the river empties into the St. Lawrence near Massena.
From the headwaters to the dam at Colton Flow, the Raquette is typical of other small rivers that flow through the county. Access is available at numerous points, fishing pressure is light. Game fish along the river range from crappies, panfish and muskie on the lower sections to trout in the upper regions.
The construction of hydroelectric dams on the Raquette River created a series of eight reservoirs called the Upper Impoundments. Carry Falls, Stark Falls, Blake Falls, Rainbow Falls, South Colton, Higley Flow, and Colton Flow reservoirs comprise this 30 mile stretch of river.
The upper Raquette River has good bass fishing and fair angling for pike and walleye, but this 17 mile stretch above the impoundments receives minimal pressure because access is limited and strong rapids are common.
The middle and lower portions of the Raquette River flow for nearly 50 miles from Colton through the larger communities of Potsdam, Norwood and Massena to the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation. Long river stretches, numerous dams and several reservoirs characterize the middle stretch of the river, while the lower stretch offers 15 miles of gentle uninterrupted flow. If you wish to fish along the final 5.6 miles which is on the Mohawk Territory, you must first obtain a permit from the Mohawk Tribal Council.
For more information on the Raquette River, a free brochure is available from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. For specific State regulations for rivers in St. Lawrence County click here.
Lake Ozonia - St. Regis River: Special regulations allow year round fishing at this popular lake which receives annual DEC stockings of rainbow trout and splake numbering 5,000. In recent years, Lake Ozonia has also been stocked with lake trout, landlocked salmon, and brown trout. The browns are two year old trout measuring 15 inches. The high numbers of trout here overshadow the outstanding yellow perch fishing that exists.
The St. Regis River ranks among the county's most popular trout streams. Special regulations allow year round fishing on the St. Regis between Fort Jackson and Mill Street in the town of Hopkinton.
A DEC car-top launch located off the Lake Ozonia Road offers year round access. The launch site has a ten horsepower restriction on outboard motors. Whether anglers use gas or electric powered motors, their preferred fishing technique is to troll the shorelines, bays, and points in the spring and fall. Ice anglers catch both trout and perch by setting minnows below a tip-up or by jigging with small spoons or jigs. Topping the jig with a small minnow or grub will increase the number of strikes.
Annual stockings consist of a combination of 10,000 rainbow trout and brown trout, and the St. Regis has been receiving 750 two year old browns each year since 1997. Hopkinton Brook, which empties into the St. Regis at Fort Jackson, is stocked annually with over 600 brown trout.
Bridges on County Route 49 and the Days Mills Road provide access. Special regulations allow year round fishing on the stretch of the St. Regis between Fort Jackson and the Days Mills Road in Hopkinton. Trout are catchable from spring through early winter with May and June the prime months for rainbows and September the best time for browns.
Trout Lake - Wolf Lake State Forest: Special regulations allow year-round trout fishing and every year the DEC stocks a combined 5 to 10 thousand Rainbow and Lake Trout in this deep water lake. Other stocking in recent years include landlocked salmon and walleye. Trout Lake also has a solid population of Smallmouth Bass.
Public access is car-top from the Trout Lake Road. Most anglers target the north end of the lake since it has better fish holding structure.
For those who want to hike and/or rough camp, the Wolf Lake State Forest offers some wilderness ponds holding very nice Largemouth Bass.
The Wolf Lake trail (5 mile loop, easy) winds around rock outcrops and leads to a series of picturesque rock-encircled lakes, each with its own lean-to, and to a 40-foot bluff overlooking Huckleberry Lake.
Huckleberry Lake on the border of Wolf Lake State Forest is privately owned and not open to the public.
Cranberry Lake - Star Lake: Anglers will find three types of fishing at Cranberry Lake: open water fishing on the lake itself, stream fishing at the Oswegatchie River outlet, and in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area where brook trout lurk in the backwoods ponds.
Star Lake is stocked with rainbow, brown and lake trout with canoe access by a short carry.
Cranberry Lake: Cranberry Lake offers good fishing for brook trout and smallmouth bass. In the late 1800s' the lake earned a reputation for quality brook trout fishing, and that reputation stands today as anglers catch a number of brookies weighing over four pounds every year. Since 1981, the DEC has been stocking over 20,000 brook trout annually. The best fishing occurs in the spring at the mouth of the various creeks and brooks that flow into the lake. Anglers troll Mepps spinners, Lake Clear Wobblers and nightcrawlers, or their favorite streamers and flies.
Smallmouth bass can be caught throughout the summer by working points and rocky areas. Wind blown shorelines can be especially productive. Successful techniques include drifting live minnows or crayfish, trolling minnow plugs, or casting in-line spinners, small crankbaits or tipped jigs. Evening is the best time to fish.
The Oswegatchie River at the lakes outlet is a popular trout water because of good access and high numbers of fish. Annual DEC stockings here include a combination of several thousand brookies and browns. A number of the brown trout are two year olds that measure over 14 inches.
Cranberry Lake Boat Launch & Handicapped Access
The Five Ponds Wilderness Area, which borders the southern portion of the lake, is home to numerous ponds that hold brook trout. These trout are accessible to anglers who are willing to do some hiking and to carry in an inflatable raft. Among the stocked ponds here are Cowhorn, Darning Needle, Fishpole, Glasby, Nicks, Olmstead, Simmons, and Spectacle.
The Cranberry Lake area offers unlimited camping opportunities. At the lake itself, the DEC operates a public campground with tent and trailer sites. Most of the lake's shoreline is state owned, and 46 sites around the lake and on Joe Indian Island have been designated for camping. Also, wilderness camping is available to individuals who are willing to backpack or canoe.
Star Lake: In recent years, Star Lake has received stockings of rainbow, brown, and lake trout. Because nearly three quarters of the lake has private development, anglers find that the best fishing opportunities are in the spring and fall when the fish are active and the campers are inactive. Access requiring a 75 yard carry is available off State Route 3. Trolling is the most popular technique here as it is on other trout lakes in the county. Because of numerous bays and arms, anglers can find quiet water even on windy days.
Massawepie Area: Massawepie Lake, Long Pond, Deer Pond, The Town Line Pond, and Pine Pond offer Adirondack trout fishing opportunities. Except for Pine Pond which requires a paddle across the lower end of Massawepie Lake, the waters have roadside access. In 1992, Canton angler Rick Mace set the New York State brook trout record by landing a 21 inch, 4 pound 13 ounce brookie at Deer Pond.
These are but a few of the many areas accessible to the public. There are far too many good spots to list. Share the St. Lawrence River with ocean going vessels, canoe lonely sections of the small rivers, or hike to remote ponds and brooks. Whether it's a trophy or a barrel of fish you're after, you can find it here.
In addition to brook trout, Massawepie Lake also has populations of lake trout, landlocked salmon, and smallmouth bass. Trolling with spinners, spoons, or Lake Clear Wobblers and nightcrawlers is popular among spin fishermen while fly fishermen opt to troll their favorite flies on a sinking line.
Primitive camping is allowed here during the early spring and the late fall. During the summer scouting and youth groups are in the area for summer camp.
Ice Fishing opportunites abound throughout the St. Lawrence County. For the most part, anglers will find safe ice from December through March. Although the fishing remains steady all winter, the very best action occurs at first-ice and last-ice. Regulations allow anglers to use five tip-ups and two handlines.
Northern pike are the most popular winter gamefish. Anglers target them by suspending live minnows below tip-ups. All of the St. Lawrence River bays from Chippewa to Massena offer good pike fishing as do the bays and weedbeds at Black Lake. Other good bets for icing pike are Grass, Pleasant, Yellow, and Cranberry lakes. Since pike populations can be subject to over fishing, anglers are encouraged to practice selective harvest.
Walleyes are also a possibility during the winter. Again, the St. Lawrence River and Black Lake rank as the best spots, but walleyes are also available in Pleasant and Grass lakes as well as in the Oswegatchie and Grasse rivers.
Jigging is the primary technique for winter panfish, and preferred tippings include small minnows or grubs. Black Lake is especially popular among panfishers who target crappies, perch, bluegills, and pumpkinseeds. The St. Lawrence has quality perch fishing, and some bays have crappies. Lake Ozonia and Yellow Lake, too, yield panfish during winter.
Three lakes are open to year-round trout fishing, and they are Trout Lake, Star Lake, and Lake Ozonia. Trout Lake contains lake trout and rainbows while Star Lake has rainbows. Lake Ozonia has brown trout, rainbow trout, and splake. In addition, Ozonia offers landlocked opportunities. Anglers who use live minnows have the best results.
In a typical North Country winter the ice fishing season is a long one. Often ice conditions permit December fishing and in most years the season continues well beyond the end of northern pike and walleye season on March 15th. Of utmost importance to the ice angler is condition of the ice. When deciding if ice is safe, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Always test the ice before setting forth. It is also a good idea to talk to the local people about areas that traditionally have thin ice conditions due to springs or moving water, i.e. the mouth of a tributary.
The mainstay of ice fishing in Northern New York are panfish, yellow perch, walleye and northern pike. A good place to fish for these species is where you see others already fishing or where they have fished. Some opportunities for catching other species does exist including a few waters where anglers are allowed to take trout and salmon through the ice. To be sure what species are open for ice fishing, size restrictions and bag limits, be sure to check the fishing regulation guide and look at the special regulation section.