The St. Regis Canoe Area, New York State’s only designated canoe area where no motorized watercrafts are allowed, is a jewel for anglers who also enjoy canoeing and camping. Located in Franklin County in the northern portion of the Adirondack Park, this area covers 18,000 acres and has 58 bodies of water. These waters promise a wilderness experience, and they yield some of the state’s largest brook trout every year. Other available species include brown trout, lake trout, rainbow trout, splake, and landlocked salmon.
Waters in the St. Regis Canoe Area offer a variety of trip possibilities ranging from a half day to two weeks. Campers will find approximately 80 primitive, DEC campsites scattered throughout the Canoe Area. Access is available in the south from the Floodwood Road, in the south and east from State Rte. 30, and in the northeast from Keese Mill Road. Even though canoeists can opt for a trip with any number of portages, the two most popular trips are the Seven Carries and the Nine Carries.
Seven and Nine Carries
The Seven Carries is a nine-mile long venture, and it includes ten lakes and ponds with seven short portages. This trip begins at Little Green Pond although some paddlers opt to start at Little Clear Pond. The course follows a northerly route through St. Regis Pond, Bear Pond, and Spitfire Lake with takeout possibilities at Lower St. Regis Pond and Upper St. Regis Pond.
The Nine Carries route is a 12-mile trip that originates at Little Clear off Route 30 and then makes a loop to a pair of takeout choices, Hoel Pond or Long Pond. Various options exist for side trips. While ambitious canoeists can complete Nine Carries in a single day, anglers will want to take several days in order to take advantage of the fishing opportunities.
Best Spots and Techniques
Among the best bets for fishing are St. Regis Pond, Little Long Pond, Green Pond, Hoel Pond, Clamshell Pond, and Grass Pond. St. Regis holds lakers, brookies, and splake. Stocked annually with over 2,200 splake, St. Regis ranks as one of Region Five’s best waters for that species. Little Long Pond sees a yearly stocking of 350 splake, 900 rainbows, and 1,200 brookies. Green Pond boasts of annual stockings of 300 splake, 480 brown trout, and 1,500 brook trout. Stockings at Hoel Pond last year included 900 lake trout, 520 landlocked salmon, and 360 brown trout. Clamshell and Grass ponds receive annual stockings of brook trout numbering 1,500 and 2,900 fish respectively.
Any trout-fishing technique will work in St. Regis ponds, but the most popular among local anglers is trolling a Lake Clear Wabbler with a trailing nightcrawler or streamer fly. Adirondack legend claims that the “wabbler and worm” technique originated in the St. Regis Canoe Area. Because leeches abound in these waters, fly fishers have excellent luck with woolly buggers. Spin casters can entice strikes by tossing their favorite spinners or spoons. Anglers should vary their trolling or retrieving speed until they find what the fish prefer. Also, be sure to check various depths and a variety of locations. Remember the angling maxim that states, “Catching fish is easy. The hard part is finding them.”
Late spring is an excellent time to fish the St. Regis ponds, but fish are catchable throughout the summer especially for anglers who locate spring holes and who concentrate their efforts early in the morning or evening. Anglers should note that the use of live baitfish is prohibited within the boundaries of the St. Regis Canoe Area, and that no fishing is allowed in Little Green and Little Clear because they hold brood stock for the nearby Saranac Inn State Fish Hatchery.