Describing Lake George is almost too big a task for words. The lake only covers 28,000 acres of water, but it is surrounded by history and natural beauty and is also full of great fishing opportunities that are beyond brief description.
Located along the direct route of a national historical path between the Hudson and St. Lawrence River valleys, it also runs alongside the well traveled modern route between Albany, NY and Montreal, Canada. The lake sits at the base of the Adirondack Mountains and is one of the most popular outdoor recreation and vacation spots in the country. The lake is aptly nicknamed the “Queen of American Lakes”.
And then, there’s the fishing. The lake is home to a large number of people year round, but in the summer, the lake booms with activity corresponding with warmer weather. That’s also the best time to fish.
The Lake George menu for anglers includes lake trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth and largemouth bass, northern pike, chain pickerel, yellow perch, brown bullheads, pumpkinseed bream, rock bass and black crappie. And the ways and areas to catch them are just as diverse as the fish populations themselves.
Where do you start? One of the most popular species is bass. The lake does have some special regulations, seasons and size restrictions that anglers need to be aware of. The best action starts in the summer when both largemouths and smallmouths can be caught on a regular basis. While the fish here don’t grow huge, it isn’t unusual for anglers to catch multiple four and five pound bass. The smallmouth bass fight a little better and are normally found around rock outcrops and colder water. The largemouths can be caught in shallower water around any kind of underwater structure or vegetation. Artificial lures like jigs, soft plastics and swim baits are top producers.
Lake George can reach 200 feet deep in some spots and the deep areas are key to finding the popular lake trout. Fish usually are caught in 30-40 feet of water or deeper. Anglers here run downriggers to get to the fish with large spoons, jigs or live bait to catch lake trout. There are size limits on lake trout as well. Trophy fish here are considered to be 20 pounds or better. Trout season is open all year long.
Landlocked salmon are also a reason to fish these waters. These cold water creatures will also feed in the same areas and on the same lures as lake trout. But you can tell pretty quickly when you hook a salmon. They don’t just bite. They grab your bait and head for the other side of the lake, giving anglers an extreme fight. It isn’t unusual for a big salmon to also jump all the way out of the water trying to throw the hook when it gets close to the boat. Fishing is open for landlocked salmon all year long as well.
Yellow perch may be a bit easier to catch than the other fish and they are a popular target of ice fishermen. They stay in areas near the shore in colder months and can be caught ice fishing. In the summer, it’s a good bet to go deep and find open water with schools of yellow perch. These fish like smaller baits and jigs in bright colors.
The lake has almost 200 islands and the waters around these islands where structure is abundant are good places to catch any kinds of fish. If you aren’t a regular to the lake, it’s a good bet to ask for some help finding what areas the fish are being caught in. Since the lake averages 70 feet deep, it’s also good to get a guide or at least some good local advice on what depths the different species are in at the time you are going.
Lake George offers a lot more than fishing. You can take advantage of the 17 mile Warren County Bikeway where all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts including hikers, joggers, cyclists and nature lovers go to learn more about history and see the natural beauty of the area. There is also the popular Diamond Island located near the village of Lake George. This area was named after abundant quartz crystals that were once mistaken for large diamonds.
For divers, there is the underwater park at the Submerged Heritage Preserves. It consists of shipwrecks which date back to the French & Indian War when British troops avoided the boats being taken by sinking them to the bottom.
Numerous accommodations are available on and near the lake, including restaurants and overnight lodging and fishing/outdoor supplies.