Best Ice Fishing Holes

Saranac Lake's Top Cool Spots for Ice Fishing

What are the best fishing holes, in the winter? It seems that all of them have some kind of appeal. Ice fishing in Saranac Lake offers so many different places, and everyone has a favorite hard water spot.

Finding out where they are… well, that’s not easy! But it helped when I added, “Great fishing that everybody knows about.” Then, I got some sighs of relief, and some sharing.

While many folks enjoy a hike into deep wilderness, dragging a sled of supplies, this is best undertaken with an experienced Adirondack guide. The following "top" fishing holes are all easy access, ice up reliably, and provide a fun fishing experience for the whole family.

Early icE

One of the first to ice up is Lake Colby, on the eastern edge of Saranac Lake. And the ice lasts into March!

This cloverleaf-shaped lake has four sheltered bays and plenty of shoreline. One outlet bay has been isolated by turn-of-the-century railroad tracks, creating small, shallow, Little Colby Pond. The bank created between the two bodies of water can be a prime spot for fish activity.

Landlocked salmon are something of a specialty in this lake. About one hundred 21" salmon brood stock are released into Colby every fall. They are grown at the Adirondack Fish Hatchery, only ten miles away. Stocking also takes place with thousands of brown and rainbow trout.

Eyes shine when I ask about Colby. Many anglers remember that their first icefishing trip was to this lake, which has a long tradition of children's fishing. Just as families gather on the town beach in the summer, all ages gather on the ice in the winter.

It helps that the lake is so close to town, so if anyone gets tired, hungry, or in need of a break, good places are minutes away. Even if things are quiet under the water, it's a wonderful place to just hang out and enjoy the dramatic scenery.

 Sun coming out on Lake Colby

Because of its location, I get to see it quite often, and there is definitely something special about the light on this lake. Between the geography and the way the sun goes down and comes up over it is simply breathtaking. A must see: red-gold sunset light on the abundant white birches which ring the lake.

Also home to the Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby. Coming up is the 30th Anniversary of this amazing event! Which gives an idea of just how special a spot this charming lake can be.

Vast variety

Lake Clear is the main headwater of the Saranac chain of lakes. This is a unique body of water which composes the dividing line between north and east-south waters. From here, rivers run North to the St. Lawrence River and connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. To the east and south they flow to Lake Champlain, and south to the Hudson River and Atlantic Ocean. It's not just a geologic wonder. It's a fishing paradise!

It's the 28th largest lake in New York, but still small enough to ice up fairly early in the season. Known for a smorgasbord of fish species, it's considered a great spot for "lakers," also known as lake trout, and landlocked salmon.

But wait, there's more! Brook trout, rainbow trout, yellow perch, and the children's favorite, pumpkinseed.

 Lake Clear is even bigger than it looks

Lake Clear is only nine miles from Saranac Lake, and has many popular, and public, access points. The sweep of the lake makes it look deceptively tidy, but there's plenty of ragged shoreline to create nooks and crannies where fish like to hide. This creates great opportunities for the excitement of jigging, where the canny angler creates conditions where their bait is taken by a wily trout.

Some jigging techniques are to switch baits, or use a small rod which allows some movement to tease the fish. Lake Clear has the size to grow bigger, and smarter, fish, who need a little more finesse to catch.

Lake Clear is near the area's Fish Hatchery, where trout and salmon are hatched and nurtured until they are ready for their new homes. That is why fishing is not allowed on Little Clear Pond, which used to be known as Big Clear Pond. (Size, like fish, can be a slippery concept.) The whole area is an outstanding outpost to look for bald eagles, drawn by the abundant fish.

The final word on Lake Clear fishing has to be that it has a namesake fishing lure, the Lake Clear Wabbler. This is a famous fishing lake!

easy wilderness

It's not hard to get to Jones Pond from Saranac Lake, and it's only a 20 minute drive. But once there, it feels a million miles away.

Despite its common name, it is anything but ordinary. The state campground provides easy access to various parts of the lake, which has a shallow shoreline rich in weed beds and convoluted terrain. There's plenty of wildlife up top, too. Every time I go, I spot some kind of raptor wheeling over the lake... even in winter.

Dawn breaks on Jones Pond

Because of its shallowness, it ices early, and while the fish are not known for their size, they make up for it in abundance. Everyone agreed that Jones Pond was the place to go if you want to catch fish. It was praised for "lots of action."

This can be very important to newbies, of any age, who would like some steady excitement.

Jones Pond has few visible signs of civilization. The road runs by it, but has little traffic and is separated from the lake by a thick screen of trees. There are three miles of shoreline to explore, and the distant mountains create a stunning vista, especially when their tops are dusted with white. My own tracks were not the only ones, and it can be a great idea to have a book or phone app handy to help identify the bird and wildlife tracks found in the snow.

The Adirondack abundance of different kinds of water and terrain, whether close to town or deep in the wilderness, helps explain the lure of ice fishing. Just like in summer, there's always more to do than fish if it comes to that. This lets ice fishing develop into an activity everyone can enjoy, whether they are actively angling, or just along for the ride. Photography, bird watching, wildlife viewing, and just enjoying the special quiet of winter are all some of the surprises which await, out on the ice.

Of course, this is only the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to Saranac Lake area ice fishing. Get your gear or book a guide from our guide services. Explore more possibilities with our ice fishing page.

Building the Ice Palace
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About The Author

Pamela Merritt's picture
Pamela Merritt finds a library's reading room as exciting as a hike through the forest. She met the Adirondacks in 1999 and declared it "home." She's been collecting stories ever since. She declares summer's hiking and kayaking blends beautifully into winter's snowshoeing and reading to create four great seasons of enjoyment. Her published works display her eclectic range, from How-To cat care manuals to literary short fiction.

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