Photo © Ian Coristine/
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[Editor's note:  This material was originally compiled and written by Paul Malo.  If you have suggestions for content, please contact me at ]

The Sporting Life

Originally a sportsman's resort, the Thousand Islands continues to offer fishing as a central activity. The river no longer supports commercial netting, which once flourished at Cape Vincent. Our first regional protection organization, the Thousand Islands Anglers' Association, secured state prohibition. New York State still regulates fishing, as does the Province of Ontario. Sportsmen may be required to have both Canadian and US licenses. Otherwise they should be wary of the unmarked international border that meanders among among the island. Regulations are vigilantly enforced.

The even larger sturgeon, now rare and protected, may not be taken. It also comes large: another record set here was a six-foot sturgeon weighing 235 pounds. New York State regulations Ontario regulations are available on line.


2 Muskie_IvyLea Fishing Guide      Big_Kahuna_ Photo courtesy Dale McNair
Muskellunge, Ivy Lea.
Tom Weldon /
Dale McNair's catch and release Muskie caught in Forty-Acres in November 2008 was featured in TI Life in February 2009


Hunting likewise has been a prominent activity on the river for over a century. Some seasonal residents, like Frederick Bourne of Dark Island, came not for the summer, but more often to shoot in the fall. There were several hunting clubs at the turn of the twentieth century, one of which built a fine clubhouse which still stands on Oak Island. Carving of decoys became a local art for which the region is famed. Works of local cavers are highly prized, and an annual TI Museum Decoy and Wildlife Show and Auction draws visitors from afar. The Thousand Islands Museum at Clayton has a collection of historic regional decoys, about which a fine book was published, Decoys of the Thousand Islands, by J. I. M Stewart and Larry Lunman.

St. Lawrence Outfitters Hunting, Shawn Roes
Courtesy St. Lawrence Outfitters
Shawn Roes Photograph
Thousand Islands Waterfowl Specialists The catch
Photo courtesy Thousand Islands Waterfowl Specialists, LLC.
Thousand Islands Waterfowl Specialists, LLC


Winter sports

Increasingly the Thousand Islands are cherished as a place for all seasons. New houses commonly are designed for use through the shoulder seasons, and often are opened for winter visits.

Whereas snowmobiles are used recreationally when the river is well frozen (and heavy vehicles cross the ice), for all-season access an air boat is employed.

Sahwn Roes Snowmobile Ian Coristine Airboat Shawn Roes Photo
Carleton Island, north shore, Shawn Roes photograph.
Ian Coristine / 1000 Islands Photo Art
Channel through the ice. Shawn Roes photograph.
11 Ice road
Ice road. Shawn Roes photograph.
Coast Guard Ice Rescue Training session. Photo by Michael Folsom
Cross Country Skiing. Photo by Trisia Taque

Scuba Diving

Clarity of water, remarkably improved in recent years thanks to filtering action of Zebra Mussels (introduced by ocean-going freighters on the St. Lawrence Seaway), is one factor in growth of scuba diving on the river. Another, of course, is improvement of equipment and instructional resources locally. Certainly a major reason is the accessibility of many wrecks since the river has been a marine highway, with many hazards, for centuries. Sunken vessels vary from historic wooden sailing schooners to more modern steel freighters, some approaching the length of a football field.

Courtsey O'donnel Diving
Courtesy Dive Brockville
scuba diving
"Holding the Line." Diving below the ice at Alexandria Bay. Courtesy O'Donnel Diving
Photos courtesy Dive Brockville
Brockville divers. Photographer unidentified.

Water Sports


Ian coristine children Tubing Wakeboarding
Ian Coristine / 1000 Islands Photo Art
"Look, Ma, no hands!" Photographer unidentified.
Wakeboarding off Calumet Island, Clayton.

Other activities

Cycling is popular, especially on the north shore, where a cycling path extends thirty-seven kilometers along the Thousand Islands Parkway.

The Thousand Island Land Trust maintains public preserves.  The Sissy Danforth Rivergate Trail is a multi-use recreational trail enjoyed by mountain bikers and hikers, and even more so by snowmobilers and ATV riders.   Using an abandoned 22-mile railroad bed the trail links Philadelphia, Theresa and Clayton, New York. Paper copies of a Rivergate Trail map are available from TILT.   Rivergate Wheelers ATV club has a map of the trail at their web site

Hiking trails are popular with families.  These are supported by the Thousand Islands Land Trust.  The Macsherry Trail at Crooked Creek Preserve is  a self guided nature trail that provides three miles of hiking, skiing or other non-motorized recreation, along with 10 interpretive stations.   The trail is closed to recreation during hunting season.Grindstone Island Nature Trail , has a self guided nature trail at the foot (down river, east end) of the island.  It  links Grindstone Island Meadow Preserve and Songbird Forest with Canoe Point and Picnic Point State Parks.

There is an active parachute club a few kilometers north of Gananoque, which is home to the 1000 Islands Skydivers.  Lessons and competition take place throughout the summer.  Often club members demonstrate their art at local fairs.  They are one of the popular highlights of the Gananoque Festival of the Isles each summer.

ATV courtesy Vanridge Tours & Trails Bikes, photo Tague Howe Island Ferry  
ATV trail riding, courtesy Vanridge Tours & Trails
Tricia Tague photograph.
Cyclists ar the Howe Island ferry. Hal Cain photgraph courtesy
Kingston Velo Club
Gananoque Sport Parachuting  Photo Tom Weldon        
Ross Redman photograph courtesy Gananoque Sport Parachuting Centre
Tom Weldon /

Originally compiled by Paul Malo, update summer 2010. Susan W. Smith