St. Regis River
The St. Regis River originates in a neighboring county, but a portion of its water flows through St. Lawrence County.
The section of St. Regis River from the county line to Fort Jackson is trout water, but the 25-mile stretch from Fort Jackson to the St. Regis Indian Reservation offers quality action for walleyes and bronzebacks. In addition, northern pike and muskies are possibilities as are panfish. A free DEC pamphlet, “Fishing and Canoeing the St. Regis River in St. Lawrence County,” provides detailed information about access points.
THE ST. REGIS RIVER from the Franklin County line at Lake Ozonia outlet, downriver to the hamlet of Fort Jackson, consists primarily of “pocket water” where faster flows are pushed around larger rocks and boulders to form the eddies and current seams where trout love to hold and feed. Notable exceptions to this water type can be found near the Mill Road Bridge off from the Day’s Mills Road where a large bridge-pool is preceded by some small, upriver islands whose braiding effect causes some classic “riffle-run-pool” stretches. Areas upriver of the Route 11B bridge in Nicholville and the flows in the Fort Jackson area are home to small stretches of more diverse water types as well.
The river width averages between 50 and 100 feet and is a wadeable depth throughout most of the fishing season. As the trout habitat of the St. Regis is mostly heavy pocket water, it is most effectively fished while wading. However, the combination of the tannin-stained water, the algae-covered, rounded rocks and boulders and the quickly varying water depth make wading difficult. While wading the pocket water sections, felt-soled boots are an absolute necessity and the use of a wading staff is advised. Very little of this section of river can be effectively fished from shore with the two exceptions being the bridge pools at Mill Road bridge and Fort Jackson bridge.
Although the Franklin County section of the river in the hamlet of St. Regis Falls sees heavy fishing pressure during the spring months, MOST ST LAWRENCE COUNTY SECTIONS SEE VERY LITTLE FISHING PRESSURE THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE SEASON, especially during the fall months. The regular trout season begins on April 1 and ends October 15, but THE SECTION OF RIVER BETWEEN MILL ROAD BRIDGE AND THE HAMLET OF FORT JACKSON IS OPEN FOR YEAR-ROUND FISHING. There are four public access sites in the St. Lawrence County section of the trout water; the uppermost being the Mill Road Bridge off the Day’s Mills Road.
During the spring season when the water temperature is cold and the trout are lethargic, the best time of day to fish is mid-afternoon as the water warms, trout forage begins to hatch, or becomes more active, and the trout feed more aggressively. The same holds true for the late season except that the fly hatches can occur a bit later in the day than they do during the spring. During the heat of the summer, it is most productive to fish trout from dawn to nine or ten o’clock in the morning and again from early evening until dusk. During especially hot, dry summers, the water temperature in the St. Regis River can rise to the point where trout will stop feeding entirely and can even die if the temperature remains high for an extended period of time. If the water temperature reaches 70 degrees Fahrenheit, most brown and brook trout will stop feeding and rainbow trout will begin to fast at approximately 73 degrees. Therefore, it makes sense to refrain from fishing trout in such temperatures. AS IT IS BEST TO PRACTICE CATCH-AND-RELEASE IN TROUT STREAMS AND RIVERS, OR AT THE VERY LEAST, SELECTIVE HARVEST, IT IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT TO REFRAIN FROM FISHING THESE WATERS DURING PERIODS OF HIGH WATER TEMPERATURES as the trout mortality rate increases exponentially in temperatures above 70 degrees.
Small numbers of native brook trout can only occasionally be found in the St. Lawrence County section of the St. Regis River. To target these brookies, concentrate your efforts early or late in the season or seek out spring feeder creeks and spring holes. Browns and rainbows in a wide variety of sizes are found throughout the river. While the browns tend to concentrate in the slower current runs, pools and flats, the rainbows will tend to seek out the faster moving currents especially after the water temperature rises. Brook trout are rarely caught larger than 10 inches, but rainbows commonly exceed 12 inches and brown trout are caught in the16 to 20-inch range.
Depending on the time of season, a variety of dry flies and nymphs can be very productive. See the hatch chart for detailed hatch information. Streamers such as the wooly bugger, in black or olive color work especially well all year long as well as streamers such as the muddler minnow. Stonefly nymphs are always a good bet. Spin fishers can do well with small spinners and very small spoons retrieved crosscurrent in the runs and riffles as well as bait dead-drifted in the current near the bottom of the water column.
THE WEST BRANCH OF THE ST. REGIS RIVER HAS A WIDE VARIETY OF WATER TYPES WITH SOMETHING FOR EVERY TROUT ANGLER. For the boater, canoeist or float-tuber, the Allen’s Falls Reservoir holds large rainbow trout as well as the occasional native brook trout. Access to this river impoundment can be gained from the bridge on the Old Potsdam-Parishville Road near the hamlet of Parishville and there is a boat launch and parking area at the Allen’s Falls Reservoir Dam. Some rainbow trout can be caught in the Parishville Reservoir in the hamlet of Parishville and brook trout can be taken near the inlet of the reservoir and upriver. Much of the river up-current of this reservoir is inaccessible as it is surrounded by private property. Access to the inlet area can be gained primarily by canoe or float tube.
Below the Allen’s Falls Reservoir dam, in the newly instituted catch-and-release area that continues downriver to the Route 11B bridge, the river flows into a shaded ravine that becomes braided in a few spots and takes on the character of a classic Adirondack brook trout stream. A couple of small spring creeks as well as a few subsurface springs keep this stretch colder and more habitable for the native brook trout. As you continue downriver, the water type varies from classic “riffle-run-pool” stretches, to pocket water, flats and even a few narrow, deeper rock channels. As the river reaches its downstream end of the catch-and-release section, it widens and changes to the character of a freestone river.
The section of the West Branch of the St. Regis River below the hydroelectric power plants at Parishville and Allen’s Falls, that had previously been dewatered by the hydro-plants on a continual basis, are now regulated by minimum flow requirements. The newly instituted flow regimen, along with the reintroduction of trout throughout this section, is expected to return this stretch of river to its previous stature as a premier trout fishery. Biological studies conducted by St. Lawrence University support the expectations of healthy wild brown and rainbow trout populations as well as the return of native brook trout populations from the feeder creeks.
Angler access to the new catch-and-release section can be gained beside the Route 11B bridge five minutes east of Potsdam on the River Hill Road, below the Allen’s Falls dam near Parishville, below the Allen’s Falls Hydroelectric facility plant off the Allen’s Falls Road, and at the bridge on Allen’s Falls Road. Access to the general regulations (non-catch-and-release) trout sections downriver (North) of the Route 11B bridge can be gained at the NY State Forest on the West Stockholm Southville Road.
Fishing pressure on the West Branch of the St Regis River is very light. The fly hatches are nearly identical to those on the Main Stem of the St. Regis River (see hatch chart) and the same artificial fly patterns will work well. Water temperatures are cooler in the West Branch than they are in the Main Stem, which allows for better survival and reproduction of wild, native and “carryover” stocked trout. Like the Main Stem, the West Branch nomenclature lends itself best to fly-fishing but spin fishers can also have success by wading and using small spinners fished crosscurrent in deeper stretches. In the catch-and-release section, spin fishers must use single-point hooks and the use of any type of bait, alive or dead, is strictly prohibited.