Fish Creek Ponds is in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. It is near Upper Saranac Lake. These photos were taken from a kayak during a trip in August.
Loon Fishing Technique
The baby loon was always close to the mother in August. I did not see a second parent around. I may post pictures from September another time. Loons are interesting birds to watch. Just remember keep a distance.
Want to paddle on three different lakes or ponds in one day? Would you like to do this without getting out of your kayak or canoe? There are a few options to do this in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
Three bodies of water you could paddle in one trip are Follensby Clear Pond, Fish Creek Pond, and Upper Saranac Lake. One way you can accomplish this is to start at Follensby Clear Pond on the south side. There is a parking lot and boat launch there. The boat launch on the northern end of Follensby is further away and would lengthen your trip. Another option is you could start at the boat launch on Fish Creek Ponds.
Spider Creek Passage
From there you can paddle north a short distance to the Spider Creek passage. It is not far from the boat launch and starts by going under the State Route 30. You follow Spider Creek Passageway into Fish Creek Ponds. Spider Creek Passageway is about 1.5 foot deep. In some areas it may be deeper than that. What you will see in the passageway are spots where beavers tried to dam the creek. I also saw ducks hiding behind the downed trees.
Fish Creek Ponds
Fish Creek Ponds is a large pond with a boat launch and campgrounds along it. In the area I paddled near to get into Fish Creek Bay there appeared to be private houses along it. So if you wanted to camp you have the option of booking a stay at the Fish Creek Ponds Campground or try your luck at the free campsites along Follensby Clear Pond. Those are first come first served.
Upper Saranac Lake
Once in Fish Creek Ponds you stay on the left side of the pond and look for a wider passageway, more like a larger creek. This takes you into Fish Creek Bay of Upper Saranac Lake. I paddled around Whitney Point.
There is some wildlife to see along the way. In Fish Creek Pond I saw a merganser ducks. I also saw a loon mother with an older baby. It was much larger than the other babies I saw in other lakes and ponds. The mother was still bringing it fish. I also saw a loon pair in Fish Creek Bay of Upper Saranac Lake.
Be Cautious Be Prepared
Upper Saranac is a much larger lake so you need to be cautious when paddling. Wind can greatly make your trip more difficult. Also people in the summer go out even early in the morning to water ski and you need to be careful around boaters. They do not always pay attention to you. I also recommend bringing a map whenever you do a paddle like this one. Adirondack Paddler’s Map North covers this region. It is waterproof. I have gotten it wet plenty of times and it is still good. It is published by Paddlesports Press in Saranac Lake. You can buy it at most stores that sell kayaks or canoes in NY. I was able to get one in the Hudson Valley. Many local bookstores in the Adirondacks carry it as well.
On the return I spent more time in Follensby Clear Pond before I took my kayak out of the water. It was a brilliant day with not much wind, so paddling on each body of water was divine.
This was a great paddling trip, that I highly recommend. Going through the Spider Creek Passageway was fun and it is always a joy to see loons along the way.
What makes a pond a pond? What makes a lake a lake? It is not always size in terms of acreage it covers. There are some ponds that are larger in size than lakes. Lakes are usually much deeper. Ponds they say are shallow enough to allow light to reach the bottom. One pond that seems larger than some lakes is Osgood Pond.
Osgood Pond is near Pauls Smith’s in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. You can access Osgood Pond by car by White Pine Road off of State Route 86. It has a boat launch maintained by the state. I visited there on two separate days. During the summer a recent university graduate was employed to check boats going in and out of the pond. The state tries to make sure invasive species are not carried from one body of water to another. I liked this boat launch. It was a gradual decline in to the pond.
One advantage of this pond is you can access other bodies or water without getting out of your canoe/ kayak. Some lakes and ponds have carries between them. This one has some passageways or outlets between it and other ponds and rivers.
Another advantage is there are some campsites accessible paddling from Osgood. There are primitive campsites along nearby Jones pond, accessible by paddling through Jones Pond outlet. There are lean-tos on Osgood and Church Pond. There are also primitive campsites on Upper Osgood River. These campsites are free and first come first served.
Thirdly, and most importantly to me, this pond has great access to viewing wildlife. There are ducks, multiple loon pairs, and eagles coming and going. There must be fish worth trying for. I did see a few fishermen.
Loon behaviour on this pond was odd. I did not see them stick their heads above water for long and they did not hang out long on the surface at any time. I watched them the first day. The second day I saw the eagles. I attribute the loons’ behaviour to the eagle’s presence. Eagles will go after ducks and loons and their young. I did not see young loons on this pond. A local told me the eagles have been visiting for three years and they have not seen loon young in three years. They tie the two events together.
Overall it is a great place to kayak. I enjoyed it so much I went back again the following day. If you wish to canoe or kayak a few different bodies of water without carrying your boat, I recommend this pond. If you want a spot to camp for free arriving by boat, the lack of traffic at this location may make it ideal.
Looking for a nice spot to canoe or kayak for a few hours in the Adirondacks? Looking for a place that offers free camping? Follensy Clear Pond may fit the bill.
Follensby Clear Pond is actually pretty large in size. Its larger than some lakes in the area. It is said to cover 491.3 acres.
Follensby Clear Pond has two launch points. One is on the south side of the pond off State Route 30. The other is on the north side of the pond off the same road. I used the parking lot and launch on the south side of the pond. They have two launch sites there. One is with a dock and the other is a rough path with roots sticking up close by. The same path takes you to both. The water is shallow at both points. I prefer standing in the water and getting in. Just be careful bringing your boat to the launch site. Small motor boats appear to be allowed on this pond.
There are several campsites around the pond. They appear to be accessible via boat. There are markers on trees where you would access these sites. They are primitive campsites and everything is carry in carry out. It is first come first served, no reservations. Most campsites have outhouses and all have stone rock fire rings. Ladies from a local canoeing group told me there are usually at least one or two available. It appears to be accessible to more, they ask you stay for no more than three days. To say 4 days or longer you need to contact a ranger and get a permit. I am not sure how many campsites there are. I see at one point they were discussing closing some of the sites and there was opposition to that.
This pond has a variety of wildlife. I saw one loon pair. I also saw an eagle that was probably about 3-4 years old without white head feathers. Since there are several lakes and ponds in the near vicinity I don’t think he stays there long. There are ducks, and in July I saw many ducklings.
I kayaked two different bodies of water that day. It was very windy and a little hard to paddle in the middle of the pond. I saw other kayakers and canoeists after I arrived. A canoeing group seems to favor this pond for their outings. It is also a pond that you can access more than one body of water through. I saw a group of kayakers come under State Route 30 through Spider Creek Passage from Fish Creek Ponds. Through Fish Creek Ponds you can access Upper Saranac Lake.
Windy or not it was a great body of water to paddle on. I hope to go back to this location in the near future. Whether you are camping or not it is a great pond to spend a few hours at.
If you want to hit more than one lake in the Adirondacks while canoeing or kayaking, where could you go? Upper St. Regis Lake may be an answer as it connects to Spitfire Lake and from Spitfire Lake you can get to Lower St. Regis Lake.
Upper St. Regis Lake has a boat launch off St. Regis Carry (Road) which is off of State Route 30. You can park along the side of the road leading to the boat launch. The boat launch is for power boaters as well, so it is a nice gradual ease into the lake. This location also has a free do it yourself boat wash. This is important to make sure you do not transport invasive species between lakes. You can launch and park for free.
I got there early in the morning and only stayed for about 2 hours. I hope to go again. I was trying to squeeze in another nearby lake before a predicted storm.
I came across the first loon when paddling between two islands. I believe it was the father loon. As I started moving away I heard a loon calling from the other side of the lake. I went in that direction and found a mother loon and her baby. They stayed in an area that was between an island and a marshy area. The mother called again and the father came by.
The difference between these loon parents and the ones I saw at Upper Saran Lake was this pair tried to feed the baby by putting the fish in the water near it. The ones in Saranac Lake handed off the fish above water.
What was humorous to me was the father would come up out of the water making a loud complaining like noise when he did not surface with a fish. He did not do that when he did have a fish. These parents seemed less successful catching fish than the ones at Upper Saranac, who were constantly coming up with them.
The light was not optimal. It was early morning on a cloudy day. However, once again I was happy to watch this family from a distance.
Do you like viewing wildlife while you kayak or canoe? Would you like to see loons or ducks? There are many lakes and ponds in the northern Adirondacks where you can see wildlife. One such lake is Upper Saranac Lake.
How to access
The lake is near the towns of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Upper Saranac Lake can be accessed on the north end off State Route 30 via a parking lot and boat launch. Parking and launching at this site is free. The boat launch is one of the better ones I have experienced in the Adirondacks. It is paved, so if you have a motor boat it is ideal. It was also easier for me to use it to get into my kayak. I prefer boat launches to dock entries. They also have a free boat wash to clean off your kayak. This helps reduce the chance of carrying invasive species between lakes.
The day I went it was supposed to rain and storm. I went to another lake in early morning and went to this lake later in the morning for a few hours. It did rain a few times slightly while a paddled. The first wildlife I encountered were what appeared to be Merganser ducks. I am thinking a female and a baby.
I paddled across the lake and around some islands. I heard a loon call a few times from the other side of the lake. The weather was looking iffy so I decided to head back. While heading back towards the boat launch I ran into a loon family with two babies. I kept my distance and they were fine with me being around.
I got to watch the parent loons take turns going under the water to find fish for their two babies. The babies popped their heads under water to look and at times disappeared in pursuit of something. Since the parents were bringing up a lot of fish I think the babies are not so successful at it yet. These parents were handing off fish to the babies above water.
The weather was not ideal for photos , but I am happy I was able to witness a loon family with two babies. I am also happy I got to witness them feeding them . Sometimes kayaking or canoeing is not just about the physical benefits you get from it, it is about what you see along the way.
The babies from different local parks and wildlife areas are starting to hunt. I try to catch local youngsters at least a few times a week. The parents are less visible now. They are leaving them more and more on their own. Soon they may be off to find their own territory.
I will enjoy these youngsters while I can. Who knows, maybe in other nearby parks in the coming years these owlets with raise their own families. One can only hope.
If you build it they will come. That is certainly the case with platforms and osprey. Ospreys are another bird of prey you can find in New York. I saw a few on a trip in June to the Thousand Islands and Lake Ontario region near the Thousand Islands. In every case I found them on a platform that they built a nest on.
In that part of New York in different places platforms have been placed on top of telephone poles by people. Soon after Osprey have come by and build nests on them. Other places they may nest include channel markers and dead trees over water.
Osprey will live around a variety of water locations: rivers, ponds, salt marshes, lakes, etc. I have seen a few on the Hudson River, including one on a channel maker where a creek meets the Hudson. The ones in this post were on Lake Ontario or on one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River.
Osprey eat mainly fish and they are known as being excellent at fishing. Osprey circle high above shallow water before diving feet first to catch a fish. It takes an average of 12 minutes for an Osprey to catch a fish.
If you you visit the Thousand Islands or Lake Ontario region, look for their nests on top of telephone pole platforms or channel markers. They are interesting birds to watch.
The sound I associate with hanging out on a lake or pond in the evening in the Adirondacks is the loon. The sounds they make to me are peaceful. I was lucky enough to see loons on two Adirondack lakes in June.
Where do you find loons? They prefer wooded lakes and ponds with large populations of small fish. They prefer lakes with islands and coves for protection. Both lakes I found them on I would not have spotted them from shore. During the day I found them fishing in the middle of the lakes. One one lake I kayaked around for almost an hour before I caught sight of a pair. On the other lake I was on a tour boat when we spotted one. The Great Lakes region has between 5,000- 7,200 pairs while New England and New York have around 2,250 pairs. Well known for having loons are the New York Adirondacks, Maine, and Minnesota, although other states also have them.
Loons are expert at fishing. They can dive as deep as 60 m or 200 feet. They normally dive 4 to 10 meters (13- 33 feet). They swallow their prey underwater. They have powerful back legs that propel them in fast chases underwater.
Loons breed in spring and summer. Their nests are shorelines. I heard one loon calling as it got dark from what appeared to be the property of a wealthy person. I respect property and would not trespass. I did kayak by the property on another day, but could not get a good view from the lake to see if there was indeed a nest there.
If you are lucky enough to camp or stay right on a lake in the Adirondacks that has loons, you may be lucky enough to hear them right after the sun goes down. They are an iconic sound of the Adirondacks.
How do you find an owl in the wild? Actually in my case the owl found me. I was hiking through the woods, which I have been doing a lot of lately on a lot of different trails, when an owl flew right over my shoulder coming from behind me. I have repeated found owls since so I will give you some of my tips.
The owl flying over my shoulder peaked my interest so I kept looking in the areas I hike. Look for an old growth forest with lots of older, thick trunked trees. If they have holes in them, this may be a forest to find some owls. Sometimes they take over nests of hawks, but others times they may nest in a tree hole.
Sometimes I have caught them by seeing movement through the woods. It was a parent hunting. They may fly from a tree to the ground, or from a tree to another tree. The breakfast of champions for owlets seems to be chipmunks. It may be because there are so many of them, or the fact they at times make a lot of noise thereby identifying themselves.
Most of the time barred owls I found do not make the typical “Who cooks for you?” call that is ascribed to them. I have heard a lot of other calls and sounds I have not heard on recordings. If you find them listen to the noise they make and try to remember it as it may help you locate them the next time.
A babies make a weak screech sound when hungry and calling for food. They may do this in early morning or early evening. If you find babies, commit the sound to memory. It will help you locate them in the future.
If you are quiet and aware you have a better chance of finding them. You will have more luck if you do not bring a dog with you. You will have more luck if you go by yourself or have a friend who agrees to be quiet while searching. Don’t have your phone sounds on. If you are preoccupied you may not hear them. If your sounds are on they may stay quiet. You have to be aware of your surroundings and listen to the sounds of the woods.
Sometimes other birds announce the parent owl’s whereabouts. I have seen bluejays going crazy loudly complaining and followed the sounds to find the parent owl. Sometimes that has led me to the owlets. I have not seen them harass the owlets in this manner, just the parents.
After the owlets fledge, the parents and owlets move around to different areas each day I have found. Expand the region you search in around the nest to locate them.
Parents would sometimes be nearby after they fledged, other times not. If you hear a hoot, check it out. They may be calling their mate or their young. You can not always count on them being nearby, unless it is feeding time.
The main advice I have to give is be quiet and respect nature. Do not get too close. Keep a respectful distance. Don’t tell too many people, as they will tell some etc. and the owls may leave and not return. I have heard one story of a whole group of photographers walking through the forest everyday following the owls around and the pair left, never to return. So enjoy nature, but respect nature!