In the eyes of most sportsmen and women, fall fishing often takes a back seat to the popular big-game hunting seasons, as hunters look to fill their freezer with venison or put a set of antlers on the wall.
But the months between summer’s heat and winter’s cold can also provide some of the best fishing action of the year, and do so when there are far fewer people on the water.
The lakes, ponds and streams that warmed into the 70s or even low 80s, uncomfortable warmth for coldwater-loving trout, quickly cool as days get shorter and nights colder. Ponds and rivers where trout are hunkered down in cold springs and tributaries come back to life.
Those same bodies of water also see far fewer pleasure boaters, so those with a boat can get into bays or anchor near islands and not get bounced around. And those bugs that torment in spring and summer, the black flies and mosquitoes, have all but disappeared.
The Lake George Area is loaded with some prime fall fishing spots where you can catch trout, salmon, bass, pike or even an elusive walleye. (Remember though, trout season ends Oct. 15 on most waters in New York.)
My top five fall spots in Warren County, in no particular order, shape up as:
1. Lake George
You can’t go wrong on the Queen of American Lakes, either fishing from shore or on a boat. In the fall, fly fishermen and women know that lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon come out of the depths as the water cools, so the areas around tributaries become popular again. You will often find those with a fly rod chest deep off Million Dollar Beach, English Brook or Finkle Brook casting to fish looking for an easy meal coming into the lake. Bass also come out of the deep water, and topwater baits and lures become a daytime option again. Northern pike, which regularly top 10 pounds, become more cooperative come cooler water.
2. Halfway Brook
This small stream in Glens Falls and Queensbury holds some big trout. It is stocked heavily but also is home to holdover trout, which move out of the deeper holes and can be found in runs and undercut banks when fall arrives. Cole’s Woods and the stretch of brook between Quaker and Meadowbrook roads are sneaky good.
3. Schroon River
It’s been a hot, dry summer, which is tough on trout streams. But the rainbow, brown and brook trout of the Schroon always find a way to make it through the hottest weather, and they will become active again as stream levels pick up. The area below Starbuckville Dam in Chester, and public access spots along Schroon River Road and East Schroon River Road, will always yield trout when the conditions are right.
4. Upper Hudson River
You never know what you will catch in the stretch of the Hudson between Lake Luzerne and North Creek, and water conditions vary greatly over this stretch. Trout, bass, even the occasional pike or walleye can be found depending on the conditions. There is plenty of public access from Warren County Fish Hatchery, and state land along Golf Course Road in Warrensburg. The area of river just above and below The Glen bridge on Route 28 is a popular spot, for good reason.
5. Thirteenth Lake
This remote lake in northern Johnsburg, near the hamlet of North River, is deep and cold, and a favorite of those who like to fish from kayaks or canoes. It is home to brown, brook and rainbow trout as well as landlocked Atlantic salmon, and is as picturesque a lake as you will find. The public access spot off Thirteenth Lake Road is a good place to launch, but a trail that goes along the north side of the lake gives good shoreline access as well.
This list offers five of dozens of great places in Warren County to head onto the water before winter arrives. From the south end of the county to the north, there are streams, ponds and lakes where you can find some peace and quiet as the leaves change colors, as well as some fresh fish to pop on the frying pan or grill. You can’t go wrong with Jabe Pond, Glen Lake, Mill Creek, Brant Lake and many others around the county.
For more information, go to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website fishing page for Warren County.