Cranberry Lake 7/22 + Black Lake 7/23


My buddy Jared is studying Forestry/Fisheries stuff over at SU. ESF has a school over on Cranberry Lake and he’s been trying to twist my arm to get over there with him to fish. So I drove up early Sat. morning. Met up with him and we launched the boat around 11:30am. We found out there were 2 bass clubs holding a “head-to-head tournament” over there. The lake is actually more of a reservoir on the Oswegatchie River. Plenty of stumps are available in case you don’t like your lower unit or prop! My typical Adirondack lake experience is to take rapalas and jig/twisters and cast them and catch smallmouths ad nauseum, but that wasn’t the case here. We cast a bit around the launch/dam area without a hit.

We worked down the lake and tried some creek mouths. Plenty of tannen stained water and rock, along with stumps. Weed growth was minimal in much of the lake, but overwhelming in some shallower bays. We finally contacted a few smallish (12″ to 14″) largemouths in one bay – shallow. My trolling motor and prop kept hitting rocks which was annoying! It was nearly impossible to work certain areas with the wind, without creeping up on huge shoals and boulders. Nice not to have that problem in the Fingers. The rain started up and kept going and going and going. Non-stop moderate Adirondack rains. No problem except the weather forecast called for temps in the lower 80s and I was dressed for that, though I did have complete rain-gear. It was in the 60s out and my hands were gettting raw!

Found one nice bay and Jared missed a tremendous (40″+)northern on top-water. The ESF guys/gals have been trap-netting the lake and they’ve seen plenty of crappies, young perch, bass and some nice pike. He caught a small pike and we caught a few more small bass but that was it. We tried the river for crappies – as he’s been doing well on them, but the overcast weather moved them from their typical sunny-weather spots. No luck there, except for sunfish, small perch and a couple legal, but small largemouths. Navigating this lake requires full attention to channel markers. There are rogue stumps all over the place.

Overall we got soaked but it’s a neat lake. I don’t feel a huge urge to get back there, but if I did I’d spend a few days there and work different areas. I know the lake holds some huge pike and it’d be nice to catch some! The high point of the day was a few drinks at the local watering hole “The Pinecone” with Jared and some college friends. It felt like the movie “Old School” ;-)….

I’d been looking forward to fishing Black Lake for a long time. It’s been on my fishing “to-do list” for years. The weather on Sunday was gorgeous and made up for Saturday’s onslaught of rain. The lake is beautiful! Nice islands and plenty of woods around it. The water looked inviting – dark and clear. Tons of bait fish everywhere, including baby perch and sunfish. I like my “rough fish” and I knew Black Lake had some gar and bowfins plus a tremendous variety of other species.

The boat traffic – especially fishermen, was quite heavy. Probably due in part to the crappy weather on Sat. I normally avoid weekends, but this was Jared’s only time off. The lake is kind of “big yet small” feeling, due to the “fingers” and numbers of islands. We started around 8 am and working around an island and hit some weedbeds. Nothing. I took us into some slop just to look around. We found a nice rocky weedless area in the slop that had a decent largemouth and smallie on it. Saw a nice gar cruise by along with plenty of baby sunfish and other baitfish.

We worked more flats and slop filled bays without much action at all. I lost a couple 12″ smallmouths along a steep dropping shore. Saw one very nice gar, but couldn’t relocate it or any concentrations of them. The fish was probably 45″. We did some brain-storming and realized that all the cover we’d been fishing was on shallow flats, so we went looking for some slop filled bays bordering deep water. We found it down towards “the narrows” part of the lake and soon we were in business! I dropped a nice largemouth pitching a dark green flipping tube with chart. tentacles. A couple minutes later I nailed a chunky bass around 2 1/2 lbs doing the same thing. Jared dropped a fish or two, then we both landed more solid keepers. We ended up landing 5 or 6 quality largemouths in this area. He had one or two bite-offs on the braid. Maybe bowfins or pike – probably the former. We could have kept pounding our bass area, but we spent the last hour or two cruising around getting the layout of the lake. I was hoping to find a gar school. Saw one more gar and a possible school of them for a minute, but couldn’t find them again.

My take on Black Lake is the following: I’d come back during the early season around May/June during mid-week and explore the terrific crappie fishing. I’d like to try catfishing the lake and casting a bit for pike and gar. Overall, I think Lake Champlain offers much better fishing, with far less people. You don’t generally need to spend a couple days on Champlain to find some great fishing. We had to work hard to find decent bass on Black Lake- and many people don’t flip or pitch. The “power fishing casting bite” was slow for us – i.e. casting spinnerbaits/crankbaits. Butterfield Lake is nearby and better fishing in my opinion as well. I enjoyed the experience and would also concentrate on fishing the southern deeper portions of the lake if I come back in the summertime.