Your next big catch is just a cast away

Whether you're a fly-fisher or a spin angler, a serious trout chaser or a novice who gets out once or twice a year, the world-class waters of the Adirondacks hold fish that are just waiting for you. Here, extraordinary trout whisperers mix with beginners - this is a place where everyone feels at home on the water. Success is a relative term, but most anglers come off the water not just with a fish but with an exceptional experience too. This is a peaceful place where great fishing and the sublime scenery collide to create a truly wonderful experience.

A trout in a net

The Adirondacks’ fishing cycle

In the Adirondacks, April 1 is opening day for fishing after a long, cold winter. Anglers of all skill levels, cheered by fresh spring air, itch to get out onto the Ausable River to experience its wonders.

  • April brings gradually warmer temperatures and longer days, and a lot of water with the melting snow and ice.
  • May is an excellent time for fishing, as the ice is gone and the fish are a little more lively.
  • In June, you will find the water is still quite cool as the snowmelt from the High Peaks continues, but fishing is heating up and rich hatches of natural fish food occur regularly.
  • In July and August, the water temperatures rise and fishing will be at it's best early or late in the day.
  • Once autumn arrives in September and October, the river is less crowded and the foliage is a beautiful backdrop for your adventures in the river. 

It's all about that trout

The brook trout is what brings many anglers to the West Branch Ausable River. Fishing the West Branch for trout is an experience most fishermen and women have sought the majority of their lives. The state stocks numerous sections of the river each year with brown, rainbow, and brook trout, and native populations thrive as well. To help protect the native species, the state also imposes catch-and-release and artificial lures only sections of the river.

A fisherman casts into the water below a dam

First catch

While the West Branch offers trout, there are several other species of fish in nearby waterbodies like landlocked salmon, lake trout, splake, bass, pike, walleye, perch, and sunfish. We are fortunate in the Adirondacks to be surrounded by lakes and rivers. Our water is plentiful! Luckily we have a page devoted to helping you find your next favorite fishing hole in the Whiteface Region.

Places like Taylor Pond are noted for large lake trout. Franklin Falls Flow is a section of the Saranac River located just over the backside of Whiteface Mountain and is home to some prize walleye. Only a 15-minute ride from Wilmington. It's an area appreciated by fishermen and women seeking a quieter setting on flatwater.

So, in essence, the choice is yours where to begin your fishing vacation. You can be certain to find still or moving water most anywhere; from roadside wading rivers to peaceful backcountry ponds. If you're still not sure, hire a guide for a customized, incredible experience.

A woman helps another angler tie a fly on.

The West Branch: home to the best trout

It's the diversity of the Ausable River that allures many fishermen and fisherwomen to explore its famous waters. What stands out the most for the West Branch is the large amount of pocket water. It's well known to fishermen that this is where the best trout live. The river holds a vast amount of oxygen from water tumbling over the rocks and boulders, which provide plenty of hiding places, food, and resting spots for fish. The oxygen and shade from the tree cover help the survival of the fish during the warmer months. The river also harbors slower sections that are deep with undercut banks just waiting for your fly to drop in.

A group of women posing in their waders in front of a local fly shop

One should also consider the East Branch Ausable River, above and below the town of Au Sable Forks, where you can find thicker pocket water sections that hold trout. This same branch in the town of Keene offers a bit more opportunity as well. Far too often anglers miss these areas as the East Branch stands in the shadows the West Branch. However, public access is more abundant along the West Branch. If you are traveling here for a true fishing trip, we suggest speaking with a local fly fishing guide to ensure you get to all of the best locations. Guides and guide shops are also great resources for learning more about the art of fly fishing. In the Whiteface Region, there is a true fishing community. From locals to one-time visitors to regular groups who gather in the region's waters, the passion for fishing — and sharing a fishing tale or two — flows through the area. For extra fun on and off the river, be sure to check out the annual Two Fly Challenge, a weekend of great fishing, land-based activities such as bonfires and live music, and delicious meals with great camaraderie. 

Off-water amenities

The Whiteface Region has plenty of lodging properties and dining options catering to anglers. Choose from a scenic motel overlooking the Ausable or a private cabin just for you and your fishing friends. Gather around a rustic table at a relaxed tavern and trade fish stories. Make sure to chat with the locals you encounter; they're sure to have a fishing tip or two!

To get even more of the local scoop, there are numerous fly shops around Wilmington. Here, you can definitely get advice, and maybe some new equipment, too! Guides and shop owners can likely tell you which patterns are working best and at what time, plus you can stock up on locally-tied flies that are famed the world over.

Leave No Trace and Love Your ADK Pledge

From big lakes to winding rivers to small waterfalls, the waterbodies of the Adirondacks aren't just beautiful or great for recreation, they're also incredibly important for the health of the environment. Clean water means healthy plants and animals — especially the fish! — which makes for a better, more vital Adirondacks and you can help!

The best way to cement your legacy is to take the Love Your ADK pledge to always protect the wild lands and waters of the Adirondacks by practicing Leave No Trace ethics and good stewardship. Thanks for your commitment!


Explore More in the Whiteface Region

Explore More in the Whiteface Region

Fly Fishing Best Practices

Let’s face it: if you want to fly fish in the Adirondacks, the Ausable River is the place to be, and fishing responsibly is a huge part of the equation. Learn some tips and best practices before heading out!

Explore More in the Whiteface Region

Reelin' in the Years

Fly fishing can tie generations together. Follow Evan Bottcher as he recalls his journey fishing on the Ausable River.

Explore More in the Whiteface Region

Honey Holes and Watering Holes

We paired up our favorite honey holes with our favorite water holes to take the guesswork out of your next fishing adventure. Mix and match, or try them all yourself. Either way, you won’t go wrong!


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