Remember ESPN’s great outdoor games? On air from 2000 to 2006, the multi-sport, made-for-TV outdoor extravaganza offered prize money north of $300,000. For three summers, Lake Placid in New York’s Adirondack Park hosted the games. You may have noticed that the show’s bass fishing competition took place 12 miles away on Oseetah Lake.

Any angler visiting the famous Lake Placid, also home of the 1980 Olympics, should spend a day fishing Oseetah Lake. In the Huron language, Oseetah means water lily. Indeed, the 826-acre lake hosts acres of the aquatic wildflower. That’s because the average depth of the lake is only three feet with a 10-foot maximum depth. Casting topwater and weedless lures into the vegetation is a sure way to catch bass, pickerel and panfish. The lake also hosts stumps and deadfalls for finesse fishing.

Fish the Adirondacks at Oseetah Lake

Oseetah Lake is known for smallmouth and largemouth bass, but you’re just as likely to reel in a northern pike, bullhead, yellow perch or pumpkinseed.

From ice-out in mid-May through the third Saturday in June, bass are catch-and-release only with artificial lures. The early season is also prime time for pike. Make hay while the sun shines. The season is short as ice returns by Thanksgiving.

World class fishing a day's drive from the big city.| Photo: Lisa Ballard
World class fishing is a day’s drive from the big city at Oseetah Lake.| Feature photo: Lisa Ballard

Wait for a calm forecast, then start paddling at dawn to beat the heat and wind. There’s no direct public access to Oseetah Lake. Put in on Lake Kiwassa and head southeast to take the short channel to Oseetah Lake. Cast to partially submerged stumps or take a lap around each island. For an all day adventure with a shuttle run, fish your way north to the take-out on Lake Flower in Saranac Lake.

Rigging and Gear

In the tackle box, be sure to carry topwater lures, weedless spinners, jigs, soft plastics, spoons or plastics. By late June, the water temperature will be in the high 70’s pushing fish to the bottom. Anglers with fly fishing gear use a 5-weight to 7-weight set up. If you’re fly fishing, use sinking line with a bead-head leech pattern.

A fish finder is handy to see into the dark, tannin-stained water and find structure holding fish. If you don’t have a fish finder, no worries. A pair of polarized glasses will cut through the glare to see into the shallow lake. To work submerged stumps and tight spaces, a small, agile kayak or SUP is best for navigating the lake.

Where to Eat

For a well-deserved ice cream, tie up at the Dock at Mountain Mist along the paddle to the pull-out in Saranac Lake. Locals grab homemade sandwiches at Lakeview Deli next to the public access. To fuel up, Origins has the best coffee in town. The Downhill Grill serves up hearty dinners with a local flare or make a reservation at the Red Fox Restaurant for mouth-watering prime rib and seafood.

Where to Stay

The new Saranac Waterfront Lodge, which is walking distance from the pull-out, and the recently renovated Hotel Saranac are two hotel hotspots. Book early if you plan to visit in July through August or early October.

Oseetah Lake Outfitters and Guides

St. Regis Canoe Outfitters, Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters and the Saranac Lake Marina rent canoes, kayaks and standup paddleboards. Find the most popular bait, tackle, fly fishing supplies, fishing licenses and info on what’s biting at Blue Line Sports in Saranac Lake.

This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 46. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.


World class fishing is a day’s drive from the big city at Oseetah Lake.| Feature photo: Lisa Ballard



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here