In search of moose and fish at Massawepie

A recently taken photograph of a bull moose walking through the Massawepie Mire that I saw on the Internet piqued my interest in the area, including the ponds on the nearby scout camp.

Located west of Tupper Lake in St. Lawrence County, the mire is next to the Massawepie Scout Camps. From June 15 to Aug. 31, the scout property is off limits to the public because the camps are in session.

However, the rest of the year, the lands are open to the public under a conservation easement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The easement provides access to several ponds, Massawepie Lake and numerous trails. There are opportunities for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, camping, paddling, hunting and fishing.

The 3,769-acre Massawepie property is owned by the Seneca Waterways Council, a Boy Scout organization that operates several scout camps. The organization has owned the property since the 1950s, according to “The Privately Owned Adirondacks” by Barbara McMartin. Back then, there were three camps on the lake and one on Deer Pond. The property came under the easement in 1997.

“Massawepie, according to the scouts, was a Native American name meaning ‘Lake by the Marsh,'” McMartin wrote.

I’ve spent very little time on the property. The last time I visited was a few years ago when I drove through it to access a canoe put-in for the South Branch of the Grasse River, which meanders through the mire and becomes the Grasse River Flow at one point. That day I did a point-to-point trip with a friend to a take-out on state Route 3.

On this recent trip, I once again decided to paddle (and fish), but instead of going to the river, I visited Town Line Pond. The pond got it name, I assume, because it’s on the boundary line for the towns of Piercefield and Colton.

It’s one of several ponds on the property. Others include Catamount Pond, Long Pond, Pine Pond, Horseshoe Pond, Boottree Pond and Deer Pond, located across the road from Town Line.

With trout season ending on Tuesday, Oct. 15, I figured I’d get a little fishing done. The weather has been nearly perfect recently, and this day offered more of the same.

One thing that is unique about fishing the Massawepie Ponds is that they have special fishing regulations. Anglers are limited to taking three brook trout and each must be at least 12 inches. Large fish had been taken on the property in the past, including a brook trout in the 4-pound range that held the state record for a while in the early 1990s. That fish was caught in Deer Pond.

Interestingly enough, as I drove onto the property, I was stopped by a DEC fisheries staffer who was conducting a creel survey for the ponds. He was curious about my opinion regarding the fishing regulations in the ponds, so I answered his questions.

I also asked him a few questions. He said he’s heard of some decent-sized brook trout being taken out of some of the ponds and also had heard of a moose being sighted in the area. In fact, he said it was spotted around Town Line Pond, although he indicated it had been a little while since it had been seen. The western edge of Town Line Pond is bordered by the mire (or bog), where the moose had been recently captured on camera by a photographer in a small plane.

I was hopeful of seeing a moose, but doubted I would seen one, especially since it was the middle of the day. They tend to be more active at dusk and dawn. The moose may have also moved on from the property. This time of the year, large animals tend to cover a lot of ground as they search out mates for the breeding season.

As it turned out, I didn’t see a moose and only caught one brook trout, which I returned to the water because it was under 12 inches. However, I did enjoy the opportunity to paddle in solitude on a pond that has a remote feel, yet is easy to access because it’s located next to the road. The walk from the parking area to the water is just a few hundred feet.

The pond is also pretty scenic, offering views of the mire and some small hills surrounding it. The shoreline forest is mixed, with a few white pines and plenty of deciduous trees offering fall colors.

More than anything, the trip whetted my appetite to return to the area and explore more of what it has to offer.