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Fishing and Canoeing the Grass River

Degrasse to Massena

NYS Overview map of the location of the Grass River

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The Grass River, a tributary of the St. Lawrence River, is located entirely in St. Lawrence County, New York. With its South Branch beginning near Long Tom Mountain in the Town of Colton, this combination coldwater-warmwater river runs through Russell, Canton and Madrid on its way to meet the St. Lawrence River downstream of Massena. The entire river's length provides anglers with a variety of fishing opportunities, from stocked brown trout and native brook trout to walleye and smallmouth bass. In addition to the great fishing opportunities, approximately 85 of the river's 115 miles are canoeable and adequate access is provided for most of this distance.

UPSTREAM SECTIONS The Grass River from Degrasse to Pyrites is generally a coldwater river. Stocked brown trout and native brook trout can be taken here. While trout is the main draw for fisherman, smallmouth bass and rock bass are also popular the anglers. Access is provided by road crossings, roads along the river and state lands.

DOWNSTREAM SECTIONS From Pyrites downstream to where it meets the St. Lawrence River, the Grass River supports mainly warmwater fish species. A variety of gamefish, including walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, brown bullhead, panfish and an occasional muskellunge, can be found in this stretch.

The entire downstream section from Canton to Massena, a total distance of 36 miles, can be canoed with the exception of various portages. These portages are generally short and easy, making the Grass River an enjoyable experience for those canoeists with only limited canoeing skills.

Key to Fish Species
BB= Brown bullhead, BT= Brown trout, FF= Fallfish, NP= Northern pike, RB= Rock bass, SMB=smallmouth bass, ST= Brook trout, WE= Walleye, Pf= panfish

Area
Miles
Species Access Comments
Degrasse to Russell
BT, SMB, RB, FF, Native ST (Stocked BT section) State Land (Degrasse State Forest, Donnerville State Forest, Lampson Falls): road crossings

Informal canoe access where Clare road crosses Middle Branch- approximately 3/4 mi. from mouth.
Several portages with marked trails for those on state land. Canoeing is spotty along this stretch, especially during periods of low water. Lampson Falls poses most obvious obstacle, but this stretch also includes three sets of rapids.

There is a canoeable section on the North Branch from Clare Road to where it enters Main branch (5 miles). From Clare Road on North Branch to Russell: 9 mi.
Russell to Pyrites
BT, SMB, RB, FF, BB,Native ST (Stocked BT section) Road crossing: riverside roads Not a popular canoeing stretch. Several rapid stretches just below Russell require portage. This is a fairly remote section and is not recommended for novice canoeist. The section below Russell is the most difficult to Earl Island. Canoeing is easier from Earl Island to Pyrities.
Pyrites to Canton
SMB, WE, NP, BB, Pf Road crossing: riverside roads Remote stretch includes several portages. Not known as popular canoeing stretch. Must portage through Canton due to rapids and put in again below the Village.
Canton to Morley
SMB, WE, NP, BB, Pf State boat launch at Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area approximately 3 miles downstream of Canton Easily canoeable flatwater (with depths of 3-6 feet) from state boat launch site downstream 2 miles. For the remainder of the stretch to Morley (approximately 2 miles), the river is a series of shallow riffles over bedrock and boulders.
Morley to Madrid
SMB, WE, NP, BB, Occasional muskellunge Municipal boat launch site above the dam at Madrid; road crossings Just before Morley is a short series of riffles that can be maneuvered by canoe.The next 2 miles consist of flatwater to Buck's Bridge, where there is another series of shallow riffles. From Buck's Bridge, where the riffle section ends just downstream of the bridge, the remaining 3 miles to Madrid is flatwater with depths varying from 5 feet to 12 feet. The dam at Madrid is the first necessary portage.
Madrid to Chamberlain Corners

Chamberlain Corners to Louisville
SMB, WE, NP, BB, Pt, Occasional muskellunge Municipal hand launch site below the dam at Madrid; National Grid hand launch site approximately 1 mile upstream of Chamberlain Corners; road crossings: riverside roads From the dam at Madrid, there is a long stretch of flatwater, approximately 4 miles in length. The first 2 miles are fairly deep, with depths varying from 4 to 8 feet and pools down to 12 feet. Beyond the flatwater section begins a long series of riffles with sections of flatwater between. The whole section can be canoed through Chamberlain Corners and Chase Mills to about 3 miles upstream of Louisville.
Louisville to Massena
SMB, WE, NP, BB, Pt Municipal boat launch site behind the fire hall on Andrews Street in Massena; road crossing Apart from a very short section at Louisville and just below, the stretch from Louisville to Massena is a long stretch of flatwater over 7 miles in length. Depths can range from 2 to 12 feet, and this section can accommodate a small motorboat. Grassy banks line most of this portion of the river, with a greater residential concentration as the river winds closer to Massena.

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