Black Lake abounds in prime fish habitat including massive bays, expansive weedbeds, island drop-offs, midlake shoals, rocky points and rocky shorelines. Healthy populations of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch, crappie, northern pike and walleye inhabit these fish-holding areas, and anglers who are "in the know" about seasonal fish location experience fish-filled outings.


When bass season opens on the third Saturday in June, largemouths can be found in any of the Black Lake shallow-water bays. Both live bait and a variety of artificial will catch fish, but the number one producer of bucketmouths is the plastic worm.

From late July through August, largemouth fishing gets tougher as the water warms into the eighties and the lake sees increased boating and angling pressure. Top summer locations include heavy weedcover, island drop-offs, rocky points, and deep water adjacent to midlake shoals. Early morning and evening are the best fishing times. Live crabs are the top producer, but plastic worms, spinnerbaits, and deep-diving crankbaits also catch fish.

Black Lake's best largemouth catches are made in the fall when anglers work midlake shoals, rocky points, and the rocky shorelines of the islands and the mainland. Live minnows work extremely well as do the jig and pig, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.

Black Lake contains a thriving population of smallmouths, which can be taken from opening day until November 30. In June and early July an angler's best bet is to work the rocky points. Shallow-running crankbaits produce the top catches.

Midsummer smallies move to the midlake structures, particularly those in the southern half of the lake. The fish inhabit deep water adjacent to the shoals although they will move into the shallows to feed under low-light conditions. Live crabs are the best bait followed by deep-diving crankbaits, which imitate crayfish.
Like the largemouths, smallmouth fishing peaks in the fall. As the water cools, bronzebacks spend more time on top of the shoals where they are more concentrated and more accessible to anglers. Minnows replace crabs as the best live bait, and shallow-running crankbaits replace the deep divers.


Despite the excellent bass fishing on Black Lake, approximately half of the lake's anglers pursue panfish instead of largemouths and small mouths. Since panfish thrive throughout Black Lake, seasonal location is not as critical as it is for bass. However, knowledge of location will improve catches on panfish outings.


Bluegills are quite plentiful and quite catchable. These fish move into bays and other marshy areas in late April through May where they remain until spawning is completed in mid-June. Throughout the summer, bluegill will school near weedlines, rock piles, and other structures. Although bluegill fishing is good throughout most of the year, fall fishing is generally slow.


Yellow perch can literally be taken anywhere in the lake in late spring and through the summer. Since small perch are so abundant, the most successful anglers constantly move until they locate schools of larger fish. In the fall, perch schools concentrate just off the rocky points.


Black Lake's most popular panfish is the black crappie. Like bluegill, the crappie migrate into the lake's marshy bays in late April and early May. During the spawning period of late May and early June, papermouths congregate on rocky points. During the summer, crappie disperse throughout the lake, and anglers constantly move to locate fish as they do schools of perch. Fall crappie move to midlake shoals and rock piles.


Northern pike normally spawn in Black Lake's large, shallow, weedy bays (often abutting marshy wetlands). When the season opens on the first Saturday in May, they are usually found around new weed growth in the three to five foot depths of these bays. Drift and cast over the weeds with spoons, stickbaits, tandem spinnerbaits or in-line spinners. By mid-June, the the weededge has developed in six to seven feet of water and most pike relate to it in July. Drift the edge and cast the same early season lures. From August thru fall, since Black Lake is the same temperature from top to bottom, they can be found most anywhere. However, most pike, especially the big guys, tend to go deep. try drifting along bottom structure in 12 to 16 foot depths with live baits, like 5 inch shiners or a six inch sucker or try vertical jigging a large tube jig. Black Lake's best northern pike fishing usually takes place in winter. Big fish, some up to 12 lbs. are caught regularly. December is the prime month, but the action holds up all winter long. Most anglers put out a few tip-ups with large shiners while they jig for perch or crappie.


After the season opens on the first Saturday in May, concentrate on areas with moving water, such as the Indian River, the narrows of Black Lake or the Oswegatchie River. In recent years they have been picking some up around mid-lake shoals. Jig the edges of weedbeds with black or yellow bucktails tipped with minnows or try slow trolling in deep water with a weighted Dixie Spinner nightcrawler harness. While walleye numbers are on the increase, the Black Lake Association, the Black Lake Fish and Game Club and the DEC have worked long and hard to bring the walleyes back to Black Lake. Please, keep a few for dinner but return all you can to help them get reestablished.


The best time of year for Black Lake Channel Cats is during their spawning season in late May and early June when they congregate in a few places such as Lower Deep Bay. Live baits are best {crabs, nightcrawlers and minnows}, but they'll also hit jigs or even deep diving crankbaits. Work hard bottomed areas 10 to 15 feet deep.

For bullhead, still-fish nightcrawlers or leeches on the bottom. Action is usually best after dark but holds up all day long if it's overcast. Concentrate on bays where the wind is blowing in.

Fisheries biologists have referred to Black Lake as a "fish factory". In truth, the lake does produce excellent populations of fish. Locating these fish is both the fun and the challenge of fishing Black Lake.

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