Great Places to Fish in NNY
If you are new to Ft. Drum and you love fishing you are in
good luck. Northern New York offers some
of the best fresh water fishing in the world, but let a crusty old local
fisherman like me give you a few tips.
As most fishermen know every fishing location can be a boom
or bust depending on your lures, bait and timing. In most cases timing is everything. Perhaps the title of this blog article should
be called “Best Times to Fish in Northern New York” because timing is so critical. Allow me to point out some popular fishing
spots and when they will be hot.
April often starts out slow and becomes progressively better
as the month warms up. The last 2 weeks
of April and first 2 weeks of May are perhaps the best time of the year for
fishing. Big fish travel from the lakes
and up through the rivers & streams to breed. They become very aggressive and territorial during
the breeding season which makes them easier to catch.
The beginning of April is the peak of trout season. Brookies, Browns and Steel Head Trout are
very active. Large Yellow Perch are also
hitting well. As it warms up Bullhead, Suckers
and huge Carp begin their run up stream.
Towards the end of the month Walleye Pike, Small Mouth Bass, Large Mouth
Bass and Silver Bass also push upstream.
I think Walleye season starts at the beginning of May and Bass season
starts in mid-June. Since I always catch
and release I don’t know the specific dates.
Just be aware you can’t keep Walleye and Bass in April even though they’re
Where are the hot spots?
For trout Dexter and the Salmon River at Pulaski are
popular destinations. Near the mouths of
many streams like Sandy Creek are also a good choice for trout. Salmon eggs, mesh, sponge and tiny Mister
Twisters are great lures. Keep in mind
they like white, neo orange and especially chartreuse. Another tip, marinate your mesh eggs in
aniseed oil for better results. Furthermore, try fishing during the first 2
hours of daylight in the morning and the same in the evening.
At the beginning of April Yellow Perch are still biting
aggressively on the docks at Clayton, Cape Vincent and Alexandria
Bay. Small Perch minnows are the
best bait. Although Perch are a small
species you can catch fairly large ones in early April, and they are considered
one of the best eating fish in Northern New York. They can be filleted, quickly boiled in salty
water and served with butter & cocktail sauce. This is known as “Poor Man’s Shrimp.”
Any mouth of a river and stream coming in from Lake Ontario
or the St. Lawrence River are hot spots.
My favorite is by the bridge at Fisher’s Landing. Worms work best at late evening or at
night. Keep in mind that fried Bullhead
is a favorite amongst many in Northern New York.
Additional note, Bullhead bite best by the bridge at
Fisher’s Landing while Bass and Snakeheads are more active near the reeds where
the stream meets the bay.
Many people dislike Carp because they are a bottom
feeder. Since I’m a catch & release
kind of guy I absolutely love catching Carp.
Trying to bring in a Carp using ultra-light tackle is one hell of a
battle. It has taken me a half an hour
to bring in a big 25-pound Carp. Where
can you find them? Dexter and Sandy
Pond. Try fast moving water near the
mouths of rivers and streams.
May starts out hot and slows down as the waters warm
up. Once again, the last 2 weeks of
April and the first 2 weeks of May offers some of the best fishing in Northern
New York. Trout fishing is great at the
beginning of the month, but it slows down as the month progresses. Bass are striking at almost anything, but you
have to release them. Carp & Bull
Head are still running strong at the beginning of the month. Pike, Pickerel and Walleye are also very
What bait or lure should you use? Salmon eggs, mesh and a dangling worm works
well for trout in May. Only use 1 or 2
split-shot 24 inches above your bait. Cast
upstream and let your bait bounce downstream. The advice I gave in the section dedicated to
April fishing still works in May, and Dexter, Sandy Creek and Pulaski
are still the hot spots.
Pickerel and Walleye like #4 or #5 shiny Mepps Lures. Diving minnow lures with green backs, orange
sides and a chartreuse belly also work well.
Keep in mind that almost anything hits a chartreuse Mister Twister if it is bouncing downstream. In most cases it’s always better to cast up or
side stream and let it move downstream.
Above the bridge at Dexter is a good spot for these fish.
Carps and Bull Head are bottom feeders. Worms work the best. Bull Head like a stationary worm lying on the
bottom at dusk or night. Carp like a
worm bouncing on the bottom of fast moving water at dawn or dusk. Fish Carp the same way as I described for
trout. Carps are plentiful at Dexter,
and Fisher’s Landing is my favorite place for Bull Head.
June, July &
The quality and quantity of fishing dies down during the dog
days of summer. The fish become lethargic and move to deeper cooler
waters. This is a great time to get a
charter boat and go after Atlantic Salmon and Lake Trout in the Black River
Bay. I have just recently bought a
boat with a down rigger for the first time in my life, so I don’t have much
expertise with deep water fishing. My
advice is to go to Henchen’s Marina at Henderson Harbor. Ask their staff who are the best charter boat
captains in the area. Ask Henchen’s
staff and these Captains what deep water lures works best.
Another option, you can bottom fish at Chaumont at
night to catch Channel Catfish. Catfish
hit almost anything that’s stinky during June, July and August. They grow large and put up a great fight.
As for bass, Black Lake and the other small lakes
surrounding the Black Lake Region have a great reputation for Bass
fishing. Although the Bass are small
they’re also plentiful on the Black River North of Watertown. I have caught them every 4th or 5th
cast on the Black River, but you need to know the right fishing methods. Only fish in the morning or evening and not
when it’s bright. When daylight is
plentiful in the morning or evening use a #3 or #4 shiny Mepps. When it is fairly dark or dusky use a jointed
Rapala on the surface of the water.
Rapalas with Perch coloring or chartreuse work the best. Cast out and
let your Rapala sit on the water for a minute or two. Let all the ripples subside. Then slightly tug or twitch the lure. Let it set again for 30 seconds or up to a
minute and repeat the tugging or twitching process. Slow down.
Don’t reel in too quickly, and make the lure appear like a wounded
minnow. This works well at twilight or
at dusk. Mepps during daylight and
Rapalas at dawn & dusk work well on the Black River and Black Lake.
This might surprise you.
There is a trail that runs along the old post near Felts Mills. It runs right along the Black River. There is a section of this river that is very
shallow shortly below a set of rapids.
There are small islands in this section of the river. This is a great hot spot for small mouth bass
during the last 2 hours of the day. The
bass are small but they fight hard, and they strike again and again. They love a floating jointed Rapala that is
cast close to shore. What I do is wade
into the waters and work along the shores and islands. Of course, you stay in shallow waters that
don’t go above your midsection. Typically, the waters are fairly shallow here
in July and August, but this year it might not be wise to do any wading. The waters are abnormally high this year, but
when the waters are shallow the fishing is awesome. You catch one fish after another. If you use ultra-light tackle these little
bass put up one hell of a fight. It’s
surprising how well they fight given that they only run 6 to 14 inches.
As the temperatures drop the fishing gets better and
better. I said the last 2 weeks in April
and the first 2 weeks in May was the best time for fishing, but this might be
the case if you prefer Atlantic Salmon, Steel Head, Northern Pike and Muskellunge. If
you prefer bigger fish like me, then Columbus Day till the end of October is
the best fishing. Perhaps the whole
month of October is great fishing.
Dexter and Pulaski are a destination for Brown Trout,
Steel Head and especially Atlantic Salmon.
I have a honey hole on the Raquette River near Potsdam for Pike,
but I can’t give the exact location.
Sorry, I’m going to keep this one for myself, but travel up north and
try the Grassy and Raquette Rivers.
Eventually you will find your own hotspot for Pike. As for Muskies, Cape Vincent claims to
be “The Musky Capital of the World!”
Trout & Salmon:
How to catch these Fish?
Trout & Salmon hit salon eggs, mesh and very small Mister
Twisters. Use the method I described
earlier and work downstream.
Cast out a #5 shiny Mepps near weed beds. Use a stead retrieval process. Silver, gold and a combination of red with
these colors works the best.
Musky love large jointed Lazy Ike lures. Some people call these a “Rattle Trap.” I have a shiny silver & blue jointed Lazy
Ike that has provided me with good results.
This Lazy Ike is quite large, and I troll with it.
Since I’m a military brat and I served in the Army for
roughly 6 years I have fished all over the world. Fishing is one of my passions. I feel I have a certain level of expertise in
this area. With this in mind, you can
believe me when I say the freshwater fishing in Northern New York is top
notch. The selection of fresh water fish
in this region is very wide. So try some
of my recommendations, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I will be glad to steer you in the right
direction. My advice is free.