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Fishing the Indian River Lakes

Map Of Indian River Lakes

The Indian River Lakes system, located on the St. Lawrence River plain in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties, consists of 18 natural lakes. They range from shallow, highly productive warm water lakes to deep, cold water lakes. The system provides a unique opportunity to fish for a variety of species in a relatively small geographic area.

Of the 18 Indian River Lakes, there are 15 open to the public. Based on fish species present, as well as physical and chemical characteristics, these lakes are divided into three groups: shallow productive lakes (6 lakes), deeper and clearer lakes (6 lakes), and deep coldwater lakes (3 lakes). Details on fishing in each of these groups of lakes can be found below.

Shallow Productive Lakes

These lakes are shallow, generally less than 20 feet at the deepest point, and have a uniform temperature from top to bottom during the summer months. They support extensive beds of rooted aquatic vegetation.

The most abundant fish species in these lakes are yellow perch, black crappie, sunfish, and brown bullhead, but these lakes also support populations of northern pike and largemouth bass. Smallmouth bass are present, but not in abundance. Walleye, while formerly abundant, have declined in recent years and provide only a limited fishery.

Contour Maps and Access Information

(Each lake links to a printable contour map or webpage providing information on species, water depth, location, and more)

  • Mud Lake (PDF) - Public Access (town)
  • Black Lake - Developed State Access
  • Payne Lake (PDF) - Developed State Access - 10 hp motor limit
  • Hyde Lake (PDF) - Developed State Access - 10 hp motor limit
  • Moon Lake (PDF) - Developed State Access - 10 hp motor limit
  • Yellow Lake - Cartop Boat Launch (State) Parking Area

Deeper and Clearer Lakes

These lakes thermally stratify, or have a progressive decrease in water temperature from surface to bottom, but do not have sufficient amounts of dissolved oxygen in deep water during mid-summer to support trout. Aquatic vegetation is generally confined to the shallow ends of the lakes, with the remainder of the shoreline being rocky and dropping off quickly to deeper water.

These lakes support larger populations of smallmouth bass and walleye compared to the shallow productive lakes above. Yellow perch and black crappie are less abundant, but grow faster and reach larger sizes. Pumpkinseed, bluegill, and rock bass can typically produce good action.

Contour Maps and Access Information

(Each lake links to a printable contour map or webpage providing information on species, water depth, location, and more)

Deep Cold Water Lakes

All of these lakes support populations of lake trout and smallmouth bass. In addition, Sixberry Lake has walleye and Atlantic salmon; Millsite Lake has ciscoes; and Lake of the Woods has lake whitefish and Atlantic salmon. Millsite also supports northern pike populations, which use ciscoes for primary forage.

Contour Maps and Access Information

(Each lake links to a webpage providing information on species, water depth, location, contour maps, and more)

Additional Helpful Information and Details

Boat Launch Sites

For information on boat launches, including Google Maps driving directions, visit the Boat Launch Sites for Jefferson County and St. Lawrence County pages

Access Definitions

The following definitions are provided to help clarify the meaning of various access sites noted on this webpage:

Undeveloped Access: no formal access or ramp. Access off the side of the road ore river bank (parking on road shoulder, small pull-off or clearing)
Undeveloped State Access: state land adjacent to river; access off river bank.
Developed State Access: formal access area with paved or dirt ramp. Access for canoe or small motorboat.
Private Access: privately owned launch area, (paved or dirt) open to the general public. may or may not be a usage fee. (Note: some site require landowner permission. These sites are noted).

Fishing Regulations

Special Fishing Regulations Apply for all lakes on this page. Anglers should be familiar with the fishing regulations that apply in these waters before venturing out to catch fish.

Current Fishing Information

When fishing any new lake, it pays to obtain up-to-date fishing information from local sporting good stores, marinas, and other anglers. Some lakes receive stocked fish, which are subject to change annually. Questions on stocking and fishing within the Indian River Lakes can be addressed to the DEC Region 6 Fisheries Office in Watertown.

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