The trio of Canada Lake, Caroga Lake and Peck Lake offers a favorite spot for vacationers and year-round residents alike.
Nestled in the southern Adirondacks, there are plenty of places to get out on the water to relax, fish and exercise.
Canada Lake, located in the town of Caroga, is the northernmost and deepest lake in the trio. After a road was constructed on the lake’s north shore, people began to build homes and hotels, and the lake became a popular resort destination.
The lake remains a favorite for recreation. People head out onto the lake on pontoon boats, fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and paddle boats. The Canada Lake Store and Marine is the only business on the lake itself. Visitors can rent boats and other watercraft at the marina, and sail out onto the lake from there.
“Pontoon boats are the most popular in recent years,” said manager Merryn Byrnes, noting that the boats seat anywhere from five to 12 people. “We did a huge boat rental business last summer, and based on the calls that we’ve already received for reservations I think it will be another busy summer.”
The business also rents cabins, and has a full-service deli with groceries and other amenities for a day on the lake.
The depth of Canada Lake makes it a good habitat for colder-water species of fish such as trout. The lake is stocked with roughly 1,700 brown trout and 1,300 lake trout each year. In addition, there are rainbow smelt, pickerel and yellow perch.
“Weed beds along the shorelines are good places to find fish in this lake,” said Gary Ingles, owner of the Wiggly Worm Bait Shop in Burnt Hills, who has been fishing all his life.
“For pickerel, use spinner bait, and spoons cast parallel to the weed edges produce well,” he said.
For those looking to catch brown and lake trout, he suggests trying spawn or worms off the weed bed in about 15 to 20 feet of water, or using minnows or small spoons. In the summer, he advises fishermen to troll 50 feet or deeper to catch lake trout.
For a great view of the lake, hike up to the fire tower on nearby Kane Mountain.
Just a few minutes south of Canada Lake off Route 29A is Caroga Lake, divided into East Caroga Lake and West Caroga Lake, and connected by a small channel in between. Canada Lake, Caroga Lake and Pine Lake cover 7% of the town of Caroga’s 54-square-mile area.
Caroga Lake became part of the Adirondack Park in 1892.
Boating is a popular activity on the lake. The Caroga Lake Marina rents pontoon boats, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards hourly and weekly. Pontoon boats are rented by reservation only.
“Last year, they were sold out the whole summer,” said Carol Ziemann of Caroga Lake Marina. Kayaks and paddleboards are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have your own boat or other watercraft, you can launch from the marina for a nominal fee.
Both East and West lakes have smallmouth bass, yellow perch and pumpkinseed. West Lake has salmon, splake and rainbow trout, and is one of the prime places to fish for smallmouth bass and splake.
“West Caroga Lake does not get as much fishing pressure as East Caroga Lake because access is not convenient,” Ingles said.
Other fish include crappies, lake trout, brown trout, brown bullheads, sunfish, smelt, perch and largemouth bass. Ingles recommends using small minnows and a slip bobber with small jigs to catch perch. For bass, use crank baits, artificial frogs and live bait, Ingles said.
New at the lake this summer is the reopened Caroga Lakeview Store that had its grand opening May 16. Michael Monks purchased the store, which had closed three years ago, in January. He gutted the building and put in new plumbing and electric, as well as a new furnace. The store sells all the supplies needed for a day trip, camping and fishing. It also has a propane filling station. In addition to groceries and supplies, there is a coffee bar and a deli that offers sandwiches, quesadillas, chicken wings and salads. Outside, there is seating for up to 25 people.
People come to Caroga Lake not only for recreation but music as well. The Caroga Lake Music Festival is the brainchild of professional cellist Kyle Barrett Price, who grew up visiting his grandmother’s home on the lake. Price started the festival with the help of a few musician friends in 2012. Since then, hundreds of world-class musicians from around the globe have flocked to the lake to share free concerts with the community. The festival is now part of the Caroga Arts Collective (CAC), which Price formed in 2016.
There was no festival last year due to COVID-19, but this year CAC will run a festival for four weeks beginning July 24. The organization is highlighting and celebrating the former Sherman’s Amusement Park, which has its 100th birthday this year and now serves as CAC’s home.
CAC’s Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night shows will take place at Sherman’s and the park will be open before the concerts. They hope to have the carousel open, and there will be vendors and other festivities to celebrate Sherman’s history.
“They will hearken back to the celebrated days of Sherman’s when you had legendary musicians like the Tommy Dorsey Band playing there, Price said.
The concerts will be ticketed and limited to 200 people as a COVID precaution. “They’ll largely be free tickets, except for some reserve tickets that are up close to the performers,” Price said. The concerts will feature music across a variety of genres, including bluegrass, pop, jazz and classical, and include concerts by CAC’s artists in residence. Visit www.carogaarts.org for the festival’s schedule.
Peck Lake, a private lake owned by the Peck family for more than a century, is just a five-minute drive southwest from East Caroga Lake on Route 29A.
When the Mohawk Hydro-Electric Company needed stored-up water to make electricity, it built a dam, combining three small bodies of water: Peck’s Pond, East Lake and Helen Gould Lake into the manmade Peck Lake.
Before this time, the area had been a largely industrial one, with tanneries and sawmills. After the construction of the dam, Peck Lake became primarily a recreational area.
John Francis Peck had seen the potential of the area, and in 1857 he purchased land where he built the Peck homestead and marina. He died in 1882 with no will, leaving his seven children to fight over the property, which ended up being auctioned off publicly.
John Peck’s son, Albert Taylor Peck, was able to purchase his father’s land for $13,500 and keep it in the family. Taking advantage of the late-1800s trend for city dwellers to head upstate for recreation, Albert Peck continued to buy land and created Peck’s Lake Resort. By the time the dam was constructed, the Peck family rented out 14 cottages as well as trailer and tenting sites.
Since then, the business had been passed down through the Peck family, who still rents out its recently renovated lakeside cottages.
In addition to cottages of different sizes, there is a campground offering temporary and long-term rentals. Visitors can launch boats from the resort’s boat dock and marina to get out on the lake for recreation and fishing. The lake is stocked annually with fish.
Anglers can catch a variety of fish, including northern pike, chain pickerel, largemouth and smallmouth bass, suckers, rainbow trout, black crappie, rock bass, yellow perch, brown bullhead and pumpkinseed.
Ingles suggests using red and white Dardevle spoons and other spoons about 3 to 4 inches long to catch northern pike and chain pickerel. Perch, crappie and pumpkinseed like fathead minnows and small jigs, he said. Small spinners work for rainbow trout.
ORIGIN OF NAME: The name “Canada” comes from the Iroquois word “Kanata,” meaning “village.”
LOCATION: Fulton County
SIZE: 6.1 miles long, maximum depth 144 feet
CLAIM TO FAME: 1919 Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Margaret
Widdemer wrote more than 40 novels at the lake, including
a trilogy about Sir William Johnson that was published in the 1950s and ’60s.
WHERE TO SWIM: There are no public beaches; swimming is only from boats on the water.
WHERE TO LAUNCH: There’s no boat launch on the lake,
but boaters can launch from the West Lake, which connects
to Canada Lake, off Route 10, one mile south of the intersection
of routes 29A and 10 on Point Breeze Road.
LAKESIDE DINING SPOT: Canada Lake Store and Marine has a café open for breakfast and lunch. It serves homemade baked goods, salads, gourmet coffee and espresso drinks, with seating on picnic tables outside.
ORIGIN OF NAME: The name “Caroga” comes from the Native American word meaning “creek” or “on the side of.”
LOCATION: Fulton County, Adirondacks
SIZE: West Caroga Lake, 3 miles long; maximum depth 74 feet; East Caroga Lake, 5.1 miles long; maximum depth 48 feet
CLAIM TO FAME: Sen. Joseph McCarthy, famous for his anti-
Communist smear tactics in the 1950s, spent time at the Schine family camp, MyHil, on West Caroga Lake, at the invitation of David Schine. He took a dip in Pine Lake while he was there in 1954.
WHERE TO SWIM: There’s a guarded swimming area at the Caroga Lake Campground & Day Use Area.
WHERE TO LAUNCH: Besides the Caroga Lake Marina, boaters can launch small craft from the Caroga Lake Campground & Day use Area (requires entry fee).
LAKESIDE DINING SPOT: The Outlet Restaurant offers a menu
of steaks, seafood, veal, pork and chicken. It’s located on the far east end of West Caroga Lake.
SIGNIFICANCE/ORIGIN OF NAME: Peck’s Lake is named for John Francis Peck, a descendent of the Peck family that came from England to Massachusetts in 1638.
LOCATION: Fulton County, Adirondacks
SIZE: Length: 5 miles; maximum depth 40 feet