Day Long River Drifts

IN ADDITION TO THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER, ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY ALSO BOASTS OF THE OSWEGATCHIE, GRASSE, RAQUETTE, ST. REGIS, INDIAN, AND DEER RIVERS.  Although these flows would likely be considered big rivers in most places across the country, here they are called the county’s “small rivers.”  Eventually flowing into the mighty St. Lawrence, the six rivers offer hundreds of miles of angling opportunities.  

For the most part, these rivers originate in the Adirondack Park, and their upper reaches hold a variety of trout species.  In contrast, the lower stretches offer first-rate angling for a variety of warmwater species, and the most popular are smallmouth bass, walleyes, and panfish including perch, rock bass, crappies, pumpkinseeds, bullheads, and fallfish.   Other possibilities include northern pike, muskellunge, largemouth bass, and catfish.

Opportunities exist for all types of anglers.  The rivers are especially attractive to shore fishers, waders, canoeists, and small boaters.  FLOAT TRIPS ARE EXTEMELY POPULAR, AND TRIPS VARY IN LENGTH FROM SEVERAL HOURS TO SEVERAL DAYS.  Free DEC brochures for the various rivers are available to help anglers plan trips.  Access points along the rivers include boat launches, community water frontage, bridges, roadside pulloffs, and road crossings.

Special regulations for the county’s small rivers set a minimum length of 10 inches for bass.  Look for bronzebacks in boulder-strewn stretches, rapids, pools below falls, and downed trees.  Many smallmouth areas are best fished by wading.  Effective offerings include live minnows, tube jigs, Mepps spinners, and small surface lures.  

Walleyes favor shoreline dropoffs, pools just above and below rapids, and rocky areas where current is present.  Casting crawler-tipped jigs or trolling shallow-diving minnow plugs such as the Shad Rap works well on walleyes.  Evening hours produce the best catches with May and September being the prime months.

Look for panfish along any shoreline especially where weeds or other types of cover are present.  Live bait such as worms or small minnows will entice a variety of panfish as will small jigs tipped with plastic or grubs.  Panfish offer excellent shorefishing opportunities for anglers of all ages, but the excitement of a moving or disappearing bobber is especially fun for youngsters.  If fishing is slow in an area, be sure to move to another location.

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