Trout Fishing and Camping
in the Remote Adirondack Ponds of Santa Clara

Mickey Maynard

Dan Boyd displays a beautiful a 2.8 pound brook trout caught in Horseshoe Pond.
Photo provided

For the trout fisherman who appreciates bold beautiful fish along with lots of wilderness and solitude, there exists a little piece of heaven just a short drive away. Located in the Township of Santa Clara, on the northern end of the Adirondack Range near Upper Saranac Lake, New York, this cluster of remote, majestic ponds ranks among the best trout fishing spots in North America. The area is managed under the watchful eye of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. These woods and water offer the ultimate fishing and camping experience, especially in early spring and fall.

Most of these ponds historically supported native brook trout strains. The introduction of baitfish like yellow perch and other competing species in years past led to a decimation of the native trout and a loss of heritage brook trout strains that can never be replaced. Many ponds were reclaimed and then stocked with various other strains of brookies, browns, rainbows, and lake trout. Some waters were even stocked with landlocked Atlantic salmon or splake, a genetic cross between brook trout and lake trout. Now that stocks have been successfully reestablished in these mountain ponds, the use of baitfish is obviously prohibited.

While the fishing is good most of the open season, anglers will do best from ice-out in mid April into early June, and then again in the month of September. Remember that the bugs can get pretty thick in these Adirondack woods! Fishermen can opt to fish camp-side using worms and slip sinker rigs, or move slowly and quietly about in a small boat or canoe, casting or trolling various flies, streamers, or other baits. One favored technique is to slowly troll a “Lake Clear Wabbler” and nightcrawler combination.

Hundreds of public campsites exist along the shores of these isolated ponds. Some sites even have lean-to shelters for the camper’s convenience. Outdoor enthusiasts will find a circuit of well-marked and neatly groomed access trails and canoe carries connecting the waters throughout the region. Those who use these pristine areas should show the utmost respect and sensitivity. Conscientious outdoorsmen should set up in designated campsites only and avoid restricted areas. Any firewood gathered should be from downed and dead trees, limbs or branches. Keep in mind; it is a violation to cut any living vegetation or standing timber in the Adirondack Park. Also, don’t forget the old adage, “If you carry it in, carry it out”!

Most of the Santa Clara ponds have at least a few trout of one type or another swimming about, feeding heavily, and waiting for an angler’s presentation. Some ponds have several species inhabiting their waters, keeping things even more interesting. One productive location is Horseshoe Pond, which supports a healthy brook trout and rainbow trout population. Another, Deer Pond, is known for brown trout and lake trout. Both Little Long and Green Ponds offer a trout fisherman’s hat trick. Green supports populations of brook trout, brown trout and splake, while Little Long has stocks of brookies, rainbow trout and splake. Remember to check the regulations for each body of water you intend to fish, as special regulations do apply to some of the ponds in the area. To see a complete listing of the 2005 fish stocking numbers and sizes in the Santa Clara Region visit; DEC Stocking Reports

Marshall Maynard caught these big brookies the day after ice-out

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