WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Sep 5th, 2010

Green Heron

Sep 5

Another day on the Grasse River.

No good turn goes unrewarded. On Friday I did something out of character for me. I took someone fishing in my favorite ‘hot’ spot on the Grasse River. And I do mean ‘in’, we went wading down river from the bridge in Morley.

Fishing the Grasse River near Morley

It was about here when I spotted my reward. A small heron like bird was wading along the shoreline that I could hardly make out. Once home and on the computer where I could get a better look it was possible to identify the other wader. This is a new one for me. A Green Heron.

Green Heron

Green Heron – Butorides virescens

Not that these are rare birds around here, I just don’t know if they are or not. They’re supposed to be shy and their swampy, marshy habitat isn’t a place most people wander around in. Besides that this is getting close the limit of their northern summer range. Whatever, I don’t recall ever seeing one before and had to do a little research to determine the identity of this other angler. And they truly are anglers, it’s reported they actually lure fish into range by dropping bait.

Green Heron - Butorides virescens

Back to the fish.

The Grasse River holds more smallmouth bass than you can shake a rod at in this section of the river. Admittedly they run small, most of those we caught were in the 7 to 9 inch range. But the action is constant and that’s why I brought a friend’s grandson along. His granddad does take him fishing but it seems that eating a shore lunch of hot dogs is usually the highlight on those days.

I’m not saying they don’t have fun or catch fish. For us old coots just dropping a line into the water makes for a good day. After all we’re a couple of jerks just waiting for a jerk on the other end of the line. But kids, they want to catch something, so I volunteered to be a fishing guide for a day. By the time we waded down river a mile my young friend had managed to catch about 3 dozen bass. Nothing big enough to write home about but he did catch a couple ‘big’ ones. I think by the time he got home they may have grown some in stature but I’ll swear they were ‘keepers’ in the full legal sense.

Fishing in the Grasse
I don’t think his grandpa ever caught anything like this.

It was also good to hear ‘I caught more fish today than the rest of my life’. It just goes to prove I’m not completely full of _it when I go on about this section of the river.

Posted by WiseAcre on Aug 29th, 2010


Aug 29

Another day canoeing on the Grasse River.
This time it was the section between Morley and Bucks Bridge. The trip starts out in shallow water riffles and there is always the chance of getting hung up on submerged boulders and rock ledges. By keeping to the north side of the river you can avoid most of the snares. A bedrock shelf extends out from the north (right) side. During periods of low water it lies exposed, today it was mostly submerged. You can just make out some debris stranded on the shelf where the water lever was only a couple inches deep.

Grasse River below Morley

It only takes a few minutes to run shallows (about 3/4 mile) in a canoe. This section is probably my favorite fishing spot in the county. It’s a great spot to wade and fish on a hot summer day, smallmouth bass like to hang out in the numerous ‘holes’. These pockets can be waist deep and the current can sweep you off your feet if you stumble into one but it’s oh so refreshing when it’s unbearably hot and humid. By the time both the river and I run out of current I can just manage to walk up the hill to home.

Near the end of the shallows is a limestone outcrop on the south (right) side and the location of my primary objective of the day. It might only be a mile from home and I may be a bit carried away when it comes to rocks but I’m not dumb enough to carry one that far. I are smart so I used my canoe to collect this beauty I discovered on the river bank.

rock in canoe

I’ve been collecting rocks and thinking about making some disappearing fountains. I’ll get into that another day.

After the shallow water riffles the river settles down. There’s 2 miles of flat water and a number of small islands before reaching sight of Bucks Bridge. I fished some on the way and caught a couple of smallmouth ‘keepers’ that I let go for another day. Hooking into bass over 15 inches is not an unusual experience in this section of river.

Grasse River between Morley and Bucks Bridge

The river bank is high and hides a beaver pond / swamp on the south side. Where the swamp drains to the river is a shallow area filled with pickerelweed. I usually catch both pickerel and northern pike here but today I just drifted by. A Great Blue Heron was stalking the shallows and I didn’t want to disturb it. I wanted photos of big blue.

Great Blue Heron

I was drifting slowly and quite a distance away but the heron noticed me right away.

Blue Heron wading

A couple of strides with those long legs and it was nearly hidden in the pickerelweed.

Great Blue Heron in Pickeralweed

My presence was too much to tolerate. With both of us in motion and the camera at full zoom I was surprised to capture the moment it took wing and get a half way decent photo.

Great Blue Heron taking off

The rest of the trip was pretty much uneventful. Another bass caught and released, a turtle diving for cover and a good slap by a beaver was all that interrupted the last part of the trip. (No I didn’t get slapped, beavers slap the water as a warning to others then dive out of sight)

The end in sight. Bucks Bridge

Bucks Bridge over the Grasse River

This is another section of shallow water riffles. Just before the bridge I got hung up and had to get my feet wet pulling the canoe to the takeout.

A Google map of the river section along County RT 14.

View Larger Map

Posted by WiseAcre on Aug 27th, 2010

Bass Fishing on the Grasse

Aug 27

Grasse River – Pyrites to Canton

The canoe launch at the bridge on County Road 21 (Pyrites – Hermon Rd) is usually more rock than river this late in the summer. For the first half mile or so the river is much too shallow to float your boat. Launching anything but a rubber duck here means wading in the shallow water and dragging your boat behind you over the rocks. But a heavy rain (over 3 inches) the other day raised the water level significantly making this section of river navigable to canoes and kayaks.

Grasse River near Pyrites   Grasse River near Pyrites
The current is swift but running the ‘rapids’ here is easy. The water depth was a good couple of feet. Standing waves marked the location of rocks just under the surface that you could easily get hung up on but were easily avoided.

Once around the first bend you’ll see the discontinued gauging station (04265000), the last records from this station are from 1977. The river settled down somewhat here, the current was still swift but there were few if any submerged boulders to worry about so I started casting about. Before I entered the first flat water section I had caught a couple small bass. Around 7 inch, they were nothing to write home about.

  gauging station on the Grasse River

Harrison Creek empties into the Grasse River just before the old bridge abutments where a road must have connected Barnes Rd with the Miner Street Rd long ago.

Harrison Creek discharge on the Grasse River
the canoe is pointing right at the creek entrance

Harrison Creek

A tree had recently fallen across the creek just above a beaver dam now topped by the high water.

  I could see two barriers as soon as I started paddling up the creek.

Harrison Creek

The creek turned out to be the hot spot of the day. I pulled in 4 bass within minutes of each other in this short section of the creek. The first was a 15 incher, the next was about 13 followed by two 10 inchers. The 5 inch monster got away.

smallmouth bass

After the creek my luck changed. I caught plenty of bass but most were in the 7 inch range with the largest pushing 9 inches. As luck would have it the big fish never took the bait on the Grasse. But that’s no big deal, fishing is only one excuse I use to go canoeing. (as if I needed any)

Canoeing the Grasse River

Owl   By the time I hit this section I still had a good 5 miles left to go before I reached Canton. I’d pause long enough to cast into likely spots, maybe catch a little bass and move on. If I fished the whole length I would not have made it to the takeout before dark. So I paddled easy and took in the sights, the scarlet red of Cardinal Flowers highlighted the yellow blooms of Sneezeweed along the entire trip. Other wildflowers such as Joe Pye-weed and Swamp Milkweed had gone by but the white flowers of Turtleheads were still hanging in there. All was silent including an owl but it’s movement when it did a Linda Blair on me caught my attention. After a couple of quick photos I continued my paddle.

One panorama after another comes into view as you round the numerous bends in the river.

Grasse River - Pyrites to Canton section

Sometimes a little rain must fall.

Grasse River upstream from Canton

This turtle has more climbing skills than I imagined possible. That stump was almost straight up. How that turtle managed to climb up there is beyond me.


The mouth of the Little River marked the last leg of my trip to the boat launch on County Rt 27 just outside the Village of Canton. A few minutes more and my 5 hour canoe journey would be over. I’m not sure how much time I spent fishing, drifting, hiding under overhanging trees to avoid the couple downpours that passed by or just plain goofing off. Even a little Muskrat Love kept me dawdling on the river.

Muskrat swimming

The little fur ball didn’t seem to mind my intrusion so I maneuvered closer for a more personal encounter.

Muskrat - Ondatra zibethicus

This was my last distraction, I did spot some ripe Jack in the Pulpit berries on the bank of the Little River as I paddled by but I didn’t let them stop me. I was wet as the muskrat and twice as hungry and just wanted to get home to some dry clothes and a hot meal.

Use the Google map to follow the course of the trip from the bridge on the Grasse River to the takeout on the Little River

View Larger Map