One of New York’s best-known fishing lakes, Black Lake has enough water and fish-attracting structure to keep your average fisherman busy for a lifetime. The St. Lawrence County lake sprawls across 11,000 acres and contains a wealth of gamefish and panfish.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass are both abundant in Black Lake, though they are typically found in different areas. Northern pike and walleye are not hard to come by, and big channel catfish lurk in the lake’s depths as well. Panfish including bluegill, sunfish, crappie, perch and rock bass also exist in tremendous numbers, and are among the most popular and easy to catch of Black Lake’s fish.
Part of what makes Black Lake such an outstanding fishery is its abundance and diversity of fish habitat. Fish in Black Lake can choose among vast bays, weedy backwaters, islands, sloping points, rocky shorelines, shoals, rock piles and weed beds. Having so many areas to choose from can make finding fish on Black Lake equally challenging and rewarding.
Spring to early summer offers some of the best fishing on Black Lake, especially if you are interested in catching a mixed bag of fish. Pike and walleye fishing peaks right after the season opens on the first Saturday in May, and May is also the best time to try for crappies. Bass season opens the third Saturday in June, and you can find largemouths in weedy bays from then until late July. Bluegill and sunfish often bite close to shore all summer long. Black Lake also offers some of the best ice fishing in New York from January to March.
The time during and right before the spawn offers the best crappie fishing on Black Lake. Target shallow, weedy bays, especially those with brush, fallen trees and other woody cover in April and early May. Starting in mid to late May, switch your focus to rocky points and drop-offs near the same bays. Live minnows, small spinner baits and all manner of soft plastic baits can tempt crappies.
Black Lake’s largemouth bass are relatively easy to find; they move to shallow habitats in spring and move to deeper structure in summer, but rarely stray far from some kind of aquatic vegetation. Smallmouths, in contrast, prefer rocky habitat. Look for smallies around rocky points, drop-offs, shoals, and reefs.
A public boat ramp is located in the town of Morristown, 2 miles west of Edwardsville on the Hammonds-Edwardsville County Road. Several campgrounds, cottages and resorts offer accommodations on the lakeshore.