Fly Fishing

St. Lawrence County boasts of a wide variety of fly-fishing opportunities.  They include coldwater quarry such as rainbow, brown and brook trout in flowing waters; landlocked Atlantic salmon, kokonee salmon, lake trout and splake in ponds and lakes; and warmwater panfish and predators such as bass, pike and muskies in rivers, lakes and ponds.  Some of the best freshwater fly-fishing in the world can be enjoyed within St. Lawrence County's borders. 

The Northeastern corner of the county, where the Northern slope of the Adirondack Mountains meets the St. Lawrence Valley, is a paradise for the fly-fisher who prefers flowing water for coldwater species.  Rivers and streams that see very little fishing pressure ensure a pleasant fly-fishing experience.  Mayfly and caddis fly hatches abound throughout the season and the non-pressured fish are eager to consume the piscator’s well-presented offerings.  Stillwater trout fly-fishers have a seemingly never-ending supply of coldwater ponds and lakes throughout the county from which to choose.  Backwoods wilderness ponds and lakes abound as well as bodies of water with easier access, boat launches and nearby services.

The most popular fly rod sizes for larger trout flows are four and five weights in lengths of eight to nine feet.  Floating, weight-forward fly lines are used most often for dry fly fishing and for subsurface nymphs and streamers.  Large, dark stonefly nymphs as well as wooly buggers and muddler minnows work well throughout the season while hatch-matching, buoyant dry flies work best in the faster currents of riffles, runs and pocket water.  For slower flats and pools, hatch-matching emergers and no-hackle dry flies are very productive.  For the smaller brooks and creeks, shorter rods of six to seven and a half feet in length are preferred.  Rod weight designations from two to four are best suited for these areas and floating weight-forward or double-taper fly lines work best.

On trout lakes and ponds in the area, rods of five or six weight in lengths of nine to ten feet work well.  For trolling deeper areas, full sinking, weight-forward fly lines are most productive especially those lines with a fast sink rate.  For casting streamers or nymphs in six to 15 feet of water, a sink-tip, weight-forward fly line is preferred.  In clear water ponds and lakes, use leaders of 10 ft. in length or longer.  Floating, weight-forward fly lines with long, thin tapered leaders should be used for fishing dry flies in still waters.  Popular streamers for lake and pond fishing include black or olive wooly buggers, gray ghosts, mickey finns, leach patterns and marabou muddlers.  

Those who wish to fly-fish for the less traditional warmwater species could spend a lifetime in the county and never fish the same water twice.  The hundreds of miles of warmwater rivers and streams and thousands of acres of lakes and ponds are home to countless numbers of bass, pike, and panfish and many waters hold muskies as well.  Throughout many warmwater sections of the area’s larger rivers, such as the Grasse, Raquette and Oswegatchie Rivers, anglers can wade and fly-fish for several different species in the same stretch of river.  It is not unusual to catch bass, panfish, pike and muskie in close proximity to each other.  The mighty St. Lawrence River also supplies countless fly-fishing opportunities and is most effectively fly-fished from a boat, but backwaters and the mouths of tributaries can be fished effectively by the fly-rodder from a canoe or float tube.   

Six and seven weight fly rods, nine foot in length, are generally preferred for smallmouth bass fishing with floating fly lines in the shallower river sections.  Top-water fishing for smallmouth bass can be very productive when using Dahlberg Divers, hair frogs and poppers.   For subsurface fishing in deeper sections, a nine-foot, eight-weight fly rod with a sink-tip line is more effective.  Clouser minnows, wooly buggers, marabou muddlers and leach patterns are especially effective streamers for bass in these waters.  Crayfish fly patterns also work very well on these scrappy fighters.

Eight and nine weight fly rods are the norm for fly-fishing largemouth bass in weedy areas and for targeting northern pike.  If you are after muskie – better use a 10-weight rod as the size, weight and air-resistance of the large fly patterns warrant the use of a weight-forward, 10-weight fly line.  It is not necessary to use full sinking fly lines in the shallower St. Lawrence tributaries that hold muskies; a floating or sink-tip line will allow a deep enough presentation of subsurface flies.  Tandem streamers, such as the gray ghost combo, as well as divers, mega divers, hair frogs and many saltwater patterns work well for muskie in these waters.  St. Lawrence’s muskie-holding tributaries include the lower sections of the Grasse, Raquette, St. Regis, Deer, and Little Rivers.


Fly Fishing for Muskie!

Some of the best and most diverse fly-fishing opportunities for muskies are right here in St. Lawrence County.  A variety of shallow water tributaries to the St. Lawrence River afford a unique fly-fishing experience. These wadeable and floatable flows are the home of healthy populations of this veracious predator.  The middle and lower, warm-water stretches of the Grasse, Raquette, St. Regis, Deer and Little Rivers can be easily fly-fished from a wide variety of access points with varying water types from trout-stream-like riffles and slow runs to flat-rock shelves and deeper flats.  Top-water action in these tribs is excellent when using divers, poppers and sliders.  The vicious surface “take” of the muskie is only comparable to the tail walking battle and multiple long runs that inevitably ensue.  If you’re looking for great muskie fly-fishing, we’ve got it!


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Contact Us

St. Lawrence County
Chamber of Commerce
101 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
Tel: (315) 386-4000
Fax: (315) 379-0134

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