Cover Photo: Hudson River in Lake Luzerne
Photo Credit: Kacey O’Brien
Written by Don Lehman
Season opener for pike, walleye and pickerel is May 1.
The May 1st opening day for fishing for northern pike, chain pickerel and walleye kind of gets lost in the shuffle with all that goes on in the outdoors around here in the spring. It coincides with some of the best conditions for trout fishing, as well as the opening day of spring turkey hunting season.
Anglers who ignore Warren County’s outstanding pike and walleye fisheries are missing out on some major fun, as well as opportunities for a great meal or two, though.
Walleye are among the best eating fish you can find. Pike in upstate New York regularly top 20 pounds, with a state record 46-pounder taken not too far southwest of our Lake George region. Pickerel are a fun predator to catch, thanks to their aggressive strikes and spirited fight.
Here in Warren County we are blessed with a number of waters that rank among the best for northern pike in upstate New York:
Lake George and Schroon Lake regularly produce some monsters over 20 pounds. With extensive amounts of weedy cover that pike like to use to hide when ambushing prey, the county’s two biggest lakes attract anglers specifically to target these bruisers.
Lake Luzerne in the southwest corner of Warren County and Loon Lake in the Town of Chester are also home to solid underrated pike populations. Both have easy-to-access public boat launches.
Bigger live bait, such as suckers or shiners, will tempt pike, as will crankbaits or buzz baits worked in or near weeds. They are most active in cooler weather; once summer comes along, northerns can be tougher to find.
When it comes to walleye, Loon Lake has quietly garnered a bit of a following among those who target this tasty fish. The lake is not stocked, and walleye have slowly established themselves in Loon lake to the point that 5-pound fish are not uncommon.
Stretches of the Hudson River south of the Schroon River junction also produce some decent walleye, particularly along the Lake Luzerne-Corinth town line. (You can also find a surprising number of pike in the Hudson between North Creek and Glens Falls.)
Walleye anglers will favor minnows, leeches, worms and crankbaits, worked along structure and drop-offs.
When it comes to pickerel, you can pretty much pick any lake in upstate New York to land a few of these mini-pike.
Brant Lake, Glen Lake, Garnet Lake, Lake George, Schroon Lake and Trout Lake all have healthy populations. Spinners, crankbaits and virtually anything else that moves will tempt pickerel, which can top 20-25 inches and offer a spirited fight.
Don’t forget the steel leaders when fishing for pickerel, pike or walleye, as these fish have teeth that will easily slice through many conventional fishing lines.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website has more information on places to fish, as well as details on public access.