Fishing in the Footsteps of French Louie
In 1963 New York State purchased the Moose River Plains tract from the Gould Paper Company, opening a vast area of the Adirondacks to sportsmen and other recreationists. The property extended from Seventh Lake on the north to just south of Deep Lake and from the east around Little Moose Lake to the west where it bordered the Adirondack League Club.
At the same time, the state purchased the land surrounding Beaver Lake, an inholding owned by Mr. Wilcox, proprietor of the Mohawk Resort on Fourth Lake. There were some changes on the west side that involved trading property with the Adirondack League Club to give the Club complete control of Canachagala Lake, which they had previously leased from Gould Paper Company.
At that time there were several interior cabins and other lands leased to some local people in Inlet and others from outside the area. Many of these locals guided sportsmen to one of the best deer hunting areas and some of the best brook trout fishing spots in the Adirondacks.
Fishing Improvements for the Moose River Plains
The Environmental Conservation Department tried to improve fishing by putting barrier dams on Lost Ponds and Beaver Lake and reclaiming both of these two lakes. The dam on Beaver Lake was never successful and trash fish came up from the Indian River. This made it hard to manage the lake for brook trout so this was changed to brown trout water. Brown trout have done very well there with some reaching 8 pounds in weight.
The trail to Beaver Lake is an old road so taking a canoe in on a cart is very easy. The trail is also open to mountain biking and horses. The lake is fairly shallow with lots of lily pads so the trout concentrate in spring holes during the hot summer days. This lake gets very little fishing pressure.
Lost Ponds on the other hand provided very good brook trout fishing with some fish reaching 4 pounds. The dam has been repaired several times to keep trash fish out of the ponds. Unfortunately, some fishermen thought it would be a good idea to fish with minnows, and golden shiners were introduced into the pond. Others thought bullheads would be good there and released some so they have been established for about 10 years now. The brook trout fishing is still good but not many trout reach more than 15 inches in length.
Most fishermen fish with a Lake Clear Wabbler and worm but a scud fly on a sinking fly line also works well. The trail there is also an old log road so it is easy to transport a canoe on a cart. In summer the upper pond is the only one to fish since the lower pond is shallow and will not support trout then.
Moose River Recreation Area: Working Hours and Contacts
The Moose River Recreation Area is all gravel roads so it doesn’t normally open until about Memorial Weekend, and even then it may be only partially open. Check with the local forest ranger at Moose River Recreation Area (315) 354-4611 or call the Downtown Inlet Information Office at (315) 357-5501.
Mitchell Ponds are located on a two-mile handicap-accessible road. This area was reclaimed and originally stocked with red salmon and brown trout. It never had a barrier dam so suckers and other minnows came upstream from the Red River and soon inhabited the ponds. The red salmon were fun to catch but never got more than 10 inches long. The browns on the other hand loved to feed on the minnows and grew to more than 6 pounds. Splakes were stocked for a few years to compete with the minnows, and one was caught a couple of years ago weighing 14 pounds.
The red salmon were not re-stocked but they reproduce in the ponds naturally. I haven’t caught any in a couple of years so I think they are gone. The browns remain and I have caught some nice ones using jigs. These trout are very pretty with big red spots.
Icehouse Pond is only a quarter-mile walk on a handicap trail so it is probably the most fished water in the plains. It is 40 feet deep and contains brook trout 8 to 16 inches long. Most anglers fish with a Lake Clear Wabbler and worm, but I suggest that you try a scud wet fly on a sinking line and this should put some fish on your stringer. Icehouse Pond was reclaimed once and limed once, and it still produces trout for most who fish here.
Squaw Lake is one of the best brook trout lakes in the Adirondacks. When it was last netted for a survey, a record-sized trout was caught and released back into the lake. When the Otter Brook road (past Otter Brook Bridge) is open, the walk to the lake is about one mile long. The fish there feed heavily on crawfish so a Hornberg streamer fly works well as does the old standby worm. Before the road is open for the season you can fly into this lake by seaplane for some of the best fishing.
Little Indian Lake
Little Indian Lake is a three-mile hike over the hill beyond Squaw Lake. It has just been stocked the last two years with brook trout after being too acidic for over 30 years. When I first came to this area in 1966, you could still catch trout in the lake, but it became acidic just a few years later. The pH of this lake has come back up to a level that trout can tolerate. Some of these stocked wild-strain brook trout should be 14 inches long by this summer. You can also fly into this lake by seaplane.
I’m including Little Moose Lake even though it’s in the West Canada Wilderness Area, but mountain biking is accessible. This lake is the beginning of the South Branch Moose River and was always good brook trout fishing, but you had to compete with the many minnows and chubs that lived in the lake. It’s a three-mile walk on an old log Indian Lake road over the rocky mountain, but it’s well worth the walk.
Other Waters in the Moose River Plains
Other waters which were part of the Moose River Area but are now part of the West Canada Wilderness Area that are good brook trout waters are Horn Lake and Deep Lake. Horn Lake is best accessed from the North Lake area and Deep Lake is a four-mile hike, mostly uphill from the plains. Other lakes or ponds that contain no fish or aren’t worth fishing are Helldiver Pond, Falls Pond, Sly Pond, and Wolf Lake.
Fishing Regulations and Access to Moose River Plains
There are special fishing regulations for all these waters including no bait fish allowed and no motors allowed. Some waters have other special regulations, so check with the DEC or find the information online. It wouldn’t hurt to write a letter or e-mail to get the Moose River Plains road reopened into Little Indian Lake as part of the Great South Woods Forest Plan at email@example.com. The three miles of road are all in the wild forest and passable by cars with a little work.
Helpful Information About the Camping Season for Visitors
The area also contains over 100 designated campsites. They have everything for good camping: picnic tables, parking areas for motor vehicles/small campers, a fire pit, etc. For maps, more information, or up-to-date conditions on the Moose River Plains Recreation Area, check in at the Inlet Information Office or contact them at 1-866-GO-INLET or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can access the Moose River Plains Recreation Area from the west by turning onto Limekiln Lake Road off Rt. 28 just past Inlet. The other of the two entrances are at Wakely Dam Recreation Area at the end of Cedar River Road near the village of Indian Lake.
Whatever your method of fishing, give the Moose River Plains Recreation Area Wild Forest a try. You can enjoy some good fishing and feel a part of history by fishing in the footsteps of the famous Adirondack hermit French Louie Seymour.
Original Article By Gary Lee
About The Author
Gary Lee is a retired NYS Forest Ranger and licensed guide. He writes a column in the Weekly Adirondack and is co-author of Adirondack Birding. He is an active volunteer with the Adirondack Cooperative Loon Program. Follow Gary on twitter @eightacrewoodm1.