Indian summer fishing outside the Big Apple
By Dan Ladd
Perhaps this Halloween, you’ll find yourself reading, watching or listening to one of the many versions of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and its tale of a headless horseman believed to be a Hessian soldier killed in battle during the Revolutionary War.
Sleepy Hollow (the town, not the reservoir that recently served up a new state record for white crappie), is located in the southern Hudson Valley. About 20 miles north, and on the opposite side of the Hudson River, in the Palisades region, sits Hessian Lake, a small, but popular fishery in Bear Mountain State Park.
Hessian Lake will likely be popular around the spooky holiday as well. It is historically known as the location where, following a bloody Revolutionary War battle in 1777, American Patriots tossed 250 Hessian soldiers they had killed into the lake. For years it was known as Bloody Pond and remains a popular ghost hunting spot. The lake is also known to be dangerous to swimmers, an activity that is off limits there.
If you’re an angler, you might not care about that stuff, especially if you live in the NYC Metro area and are looking to get outside, perhaps on a fine Indian summer day.
Hessian Lake and two state parks offer plenty in the form of recreation, including for anglers. Starting with Hessian Lake itself, a foot trail around the pond makes it easily accessible for shore fishing. There’s also boat rentals available at the park which can be arranged by calling guest services at the Bear Mountain Inn at 845-786-2731.
While a recommended Palisades region fishing brochure says Hessian Lake has brookies, browns and ‘bows, it is brown trout that saw the most stocking efforts this year. In March, 100 browns of 12 to 15 inches were stocked, followed by nearly 744, 8-inchers in April.
Bass fishing, meanwhile, seems to get the most praise when it comes to Hessian Lake as social media message boards light up with talk of trophy smallmouth bass.
For local anglers, or even those traveling to the area in the mid-fall, there’s plenty of other fishing opportunities in the region. Of course, the Hudson River is just over the hill. Better yet, Harriman State Park and it’s many waters await.
Between the two parks (Bear Mountain and Harriman) and Sterling Forest, hundreds of miles of trails leading to several fishable ponds beckon the mobile angler. Again, it comes down the informative brochure for the Palisades region.
Harriman State Park is the second-largest park in New York. It sports 31 lakes and reservoirs, 200 miles of hiking trails, beaches, camping areas, miles of streams (some trout streams) and scenic roads.
There area is popular and therefore there’s also a plethora of rules and regulations, thus the importance of the brochure.
For example, fishing from shore is permitted from a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset
Several water-bodies are not open to fishing. These include lakes Minnewaska, Awosting; Upper Cohasset, Lower Cohasset, Upper Twin, Lower Twin, Queensboro, Summit, Turkey Hill lakes; Breakneck, Cedar ponds; Doodletown, First, Second, Third, and Letchworth Village reservoirs.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Palisades region offers several fishing sites for the physically challenged. Among those are lakes Tiorati and Skannatati, Blue Lake and along the Ramapo River near Route 106. A gate key must be purchased to access the handicapped fishing area at Lake Tiorati, which can be attained by calling the beach office at 845-429-8257.
What’s great about both parks, especially for traveling anglers, is the accommodations. At Harriman State Park, glamping is now offered during the warm-weather season while at Bear Mountain State Park, the Bear Mountain Inn remains a popular facility known for its rustic atmosphere.
Ice fishing is permitted at Hessian Lake and a number of other ponds in the Palisades region, but they come with a strong disclaimer, especially in recent years when conditions just haven’t warranted safe ice on many waters in Southeastern New York.
Still, when conditions allow, ice fishing is permitted in Harriman State Park on Askoti, Kanawauke, Massawippa, Nawahunta, Sebago, Silvermine, Skannatati, Stahahe, Te-Ata, Tiorati, Welch, Hessian, Rockland, Blue, Eagle, and Little Dam lakes; Four Corners and Laurel Meadow ponds.
Meanwhile, the heart of autumn is upon us and fall fishing on Hessian Lake and others could be just the ticket for some Indian Summer pleasure.
Hessian Lake is located in Bear Mountain State Park, just west of the Hudson River near the Bear Mountain Bridge. Harriman State Park and West Point Military Academy are also nearby.
Trout season is open all year on Hessian Lake and ice fishing (if there is safe ice) is permitted here and ate of the fisheries in Harriman State Park.
If fishing other ponds in the Palisade’s region be sure to download and read a special brochure that details the fishing regulations for several ponds at: parks.ny.gov.
Nearest town: Stony Point
Surface area: 30.6 acres
Maximum depth: 40 feet
Shore length: .7 miles
Fish species present:
Brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, sunfish
Bear Mountain State Park
Palisades Parkway or
Route 9W North
Bear Mountain, NY 10911