Kids and fishing are a natural fit. Here are some great getaways the entire family can enjoy.
When it’s time for a family vacation or get-a-way children don’t always have the same thing in mind as parents. Generally, parents like to relax, enjoy things at a slower pace while youngsters like to stay busy practically every minute of the day. Even families that like to fish have difficulty have difficulty getting their act together. Fishing for a few hours one morning, perhaps even for the day is one thing, but for several days or a week is often something entirely different.
When our son was a youngster planning our family vacations and weekend trips was different. While fishing was nearly always the primary reason for a trip, to get everyone on the same page we started including other fun things to do, from visiting amusement parks to zip lines, to taking in animal parks and hatcheries and other things. We aimed for variety and for activities of interest to young minds. In later years, we even got the boy into helping select things he wanted to do along with wetting a line. Doing so put our family fishing excursions into a whole new perspective and greatly reduced the level of drama.
Fortunately, New York is home to a large number of destinations where fishing and other activities are available that the entire family can enjoy. Here are a few.
The Adirondacks are one of our best known and popular get-a-way areas in the state, and it has lots to offer.
In and around the Hamlet of Old Forge are a wide range of waters from large lakes to small ponds and rivers that support fishable populations of an array of species. Easy fishing can be found for the young and more challenging fishing for more experienced anglers, all from one base camp.
For those trailering their own boats, Fourth Lake, a few miles miles northeast of Old Forge, offers trolling opportunities for lake trout, salmon and rainbow trout. There is some great shallow-water habitat here for yellow perch, northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass and a variety of sunfish. Fourth Lake can get a tad windy, so pick your days, or hit it early and late in the day. A hard-surface boat ramp will be found on South Shore Road in the Town of Inlet.
About 2 miles south of Old Forge off Route 28, Nick Lake offers brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout but there are plenty of bass and yellow perch in a beautiful, quiet setting where motor boats are not allowed. It is a perfect place for canoes and kayaks. Take plenty of worms or night crawlers and bobbers, or pick them up in town. The fish bite readily.
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A campground operated by the Department of Conservation has 112 campsites with fire pits and tables. There are also hiking trails, swimming, hot showers, a ball field, a Junior Naturalist Program for kids ages 5 to 13 and other amenities and activities. The campground opens around May 18 and closes Sept. 3.
For more information on other fishing opportunities in the Old Forge area, contact the DEC Region 6 office in Watertown, telephone 1-(315) 785-2263.
Along the Way: Besides fishing there are numbers attractions and other activities in the Old Forge area.
Old Forge Lake Cruises offers cruises on the Fulton Chain of Lakes, and the Enchanted Forest Water Park offers over 50 warm- and cold-water rides, pools, slides and other attractions. A great adventure will be had by taking the chairlift to the summit of McCauley Mountain which has picnic tables, a short hiking trail and great vistas at the top. The Nutty Putty offers miniature golf, and there are marinas offering boat and canoe rentals and river rafting trips. For more information contact the Old Forge Chamber of Commerce, telephone 1-(315) 357-5000.
Families interested in combining camping and other activities with their fishing should look to the DEC campgrounds in the Catskills region. There are several of them in the Catskills, but the campgrounds at North-South Lake in Green County, Little Pond in Delaware County and Mongaup Pond in Sullivan County present the best angling opportunities. They are also near a selection of off-site attractions and activities of interest to all members of the family.
Of the three the campgrounds at North-South Lake, the biggest has 219 tent and trailer sites. It also has two ponds — North Lake and South Lake — chuck full with easy-to-catch pickerel, pumpkinseed, crappie and some respectable largemouth bass that are willing to take a worm or night crawler on a bobber rig, particularly early and late in the day when there is less lake activity. Motor boats are not allowed, but canoes, kayaks and car top boats are. Rentals are available on site. Along with the fishing there are two swimming beaches, a playground, horseshoe pits, volleyball areas plus hot showers and flush toilets.
In the Town of Andes, Little Pond Campground is much smaller with just 67 tent and trailer sites. The site offers many of the same amenities as North-South Pond but in a quieter setting. A Junior Naturalist Program is also offered. The 13-acre pond offers a variety of panfish that can be easily caught from shore or from car top boats. Rentals are available.
The DEC Mongaup Campground is located in Livingston Manor in Sullivan County. It sits on a 120-acre lake of the same name, the largest body of water inside Catskill Park except for man-made reservoirs. Mangoup Lake is stocked annually with brook trout, willing takers of worms and nighcrawlers as well as flies and small Mepps-like spinners. Bass, yellow perch and various sunfish are also available to keep young and old anglers busy. There is no boat launch facility, and trailered boats are not allowed, but canoes and kayaks are, and may be rented on site. Advance reservations are advised for boat rentals. The campground itself offers many of the same amenities as campgrounds at North-South Pond and Little Ponds and 163 tent and trailer sites, many located on the pond.
Along the Way: Not far away, on Route 23A in the Town of Hunter, the Hunter Mountain Skyride offers chairlift ride to the top of Hunter Mountain. At the summit DEC marked trails lead to the highest fire tower in the State of New York. Hunter Mountain also offers 5 miles of zip lines for the more adventurous.
And in the Town of East the Zoom Flume Water Park offers water rides and other attractions in a beautiful natural setting.
From Andes, just down Route 28 in Arkville, the Delaware and Ulster Railroad offers scenic round trip between train rides between Arkville and Roxbury. For information telephone 1-(800) 225-4132.
The Holiday Mountain Amusement Park in Monticello offer go-karts, bumper boats, mini-golf, rock climbing walls, an arcade and other attractions. The park is easily reached by taking Route 17 south through Grossinger. For information telephone 1-(845) 796-3161.
Located just 1.9 miles from the campground the DEC Catskill Fish Hatchery on Mongaup Road rears brook trout and brown trout, is open year round and is an interesting visit for kids as well as parents. For open door hours telephone 1-(845) 439-4328.
FINGER LAKES REGION
The Finger Lakes are among New York’s popular and best-known fishing destinations, and they offer something for every angler regardless of age.
While the biggest lakes such as Seneca, Canandaigua, Cayuga draw the most attention, they can be a challenge to fish with youngsters and their trout and salmon species can be a challenge to catch. Visitors to the area with youngsters should hit the smaller lakes in the western part of the region, namely Hemlock and Canadice lakes.
Both Hemlock and Canadice are largely undeveloped — a rarity in the region and one that gives anglers a sense of being is a remote setting. Hemlock Lake offers some wonderful angling for bass and pickerel, especially in the weed beds on southern end, which can be fished from shore or boats. Unimproved gravel boat access is available on the northeast corner off Rix Road and in the southeast corner off Rt. 15A.
Canadice Lake offers the same undeveloped atmosphere, a taste of being remote just 30 miles south of Rochester and without actually having to travel as far as the Adirondacks. The best action for youngsters will be provided by eager-to-hit pickerel, which abounds in this lake. Bass, yellow perch and other sunfish are also readily available. Take plenty of Dardevle spoons in various small and medium sizes and color combinations, some spinners and some worms and night crawlers for good measure. An unimproved gravel launch site and public access is available on the northeast side near the junction of Canadice Road and Birch Hill Road. There is also a car top launch site on the south end of Canadice Lake Road, as well as informal access points and shore fishing along Canadice Lake Road. Compared to other lakes in the chain, Hemlock and Canadice lakes offer few developed amenities when it comes to access but a day or two fishing more than makes up for it.
Maps of these lakes showing access points, as well as any special fishing regulations are available on the DEC web site at www.dec.ny.gov.
Along the Way: There are a wide assortments of interesting and fun things to do and see in the Finger Lakes Region, from amusement park and zoos for the youngsters to wineries and vineyards and museums for parents to nature and wildlife areas for all.
For more information and details, as well as on lodging and camping facilities visit www.visitfingerlakes.com.
Angling families who prefer saltwater and beaches should head to Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Nearly every town facing Long Island Sound or the Atlantic Ocean has public access to beaches and parks that offer angling opportunities for an array of inshore saltwater species. Several county and state parks and recreation areas also offer access.
Both counties also offer freshwater angling opportunities in several rivers, ponds, reservoirs, most with county or town parks. Nassau County has nearly twenty such freshwater areas and as you travel east into Suffolk County the offerings get even larger with nearly fifty freshwater areas to wet a line. For more information on these areas and DEC camping on Long Island visit the Long Island camping and fishing sections on the DEC web site.
Along the Way: Along with beaches and parks, Long Island presents visitors with an impressive list of attractions, including a half-dozen amusement and theme parks. Adventureland in Farmingdale is one of the largest and best known and has more than thirty rides.
WESTERN NEW YORK
Some great camps and bass fishing will be found at Dairen Lakes State Park located in Darien Center. The campground offers 156 camp and RV sites, many with electrical hook-ups. Kids can partake of recreational programs, bike and nature trails and playground area.
Also available is 12-acre Harlow Lake, which is full of bass, some of rather nice size. Early and late in the day the bass are willing feeders in the lake’s weedy areas along the shoreline. They’ll hit various spinnerbaits, spoons and lures, although a worm/night crawler and bobber hookup will do nicely too.
For more information on all DEC campgrounds and state parks in New York telephone 1-(315) 369-3314. Reservations are made through ReserveAmercia.
Along the Way: Not far away the Darien Lakes Water and Theme Park located on Allegheny Road offers thrill and water rides and other rides and amusements for kids and family. Darien Lakes State Park is also close to Buffalo and the Niagara Falls area.