The fishing season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge opened Saturday, May 4, and with this, most of New York's sportfish seasons will be open.
This includes catch and release fishing for black bass - largemouth and smallmouth bass - in many waters across the state and the special trophy black bass season on Lake Erie where anglers can take one 20-inch or longer fish per day.
New York's Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, stocking as much as 900,000 pounds of fish, expanding fishing clinics and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions. Through these efforts, New York has become a premier destination for bass fishing tournaments at the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, Lake Champlain and Oneida Lake. Bass anglers should check the New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide to ensure the water they desire to fish is open to catch and release angling at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7917.html. Muskellunge fishing season and the regular harvest season for black bass opens on Saturday, June 15.
"Governor Cuomo's NY's Open for Hunting and Fishing initiative promotes the exceptional warmwater fishing opportunities New York provides in its abundant lakes and rivers renowned for trophy bass, plentiful walleye, and aggressive pike and pickerel," New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said. "I encourage all anglers to find the time to enjoy, and share with others, the great fishing that can be found here in New York."
While chain pickerel and tiger muskellunge are consistently active most of the year, walleye and northern pike fishing can be particularly good in the cool water conditions of early spring. Due to stocking and other DEC management efforts, walleye are found in more than 140 waters throughout the state, and quality fisheries exist in every major watershed. Advice for catching walleye can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/87391.html.
Other popular springtime targets include yellow perch, sunfish and crappie. These species are common throughout the state and provide easy fishing for even novice anglers. Channel catfish, a popular sportfish in southern and midwestern states, are abundant in many of New York's larger lakes and rivers, provide a very tasty meal, and are generally underutilized by anglers. Tips and locations for catching big channel catfish and panfish are available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/77432.html. A complete listing of 2013 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists also can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/
Black bass are New York's most popular sportfish and continue to be an important management focus for DEC. Cornell University and DEC recently completed a survey of black bass anglers to gain a better understanding of their views on tournaments, fishing regulations and other management activities. The 2013 Warmwater Fishing Forecast is available at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/64710.html. The Black Bass Anglers Experiences in New York and Their Views on Tournaments and Fisheries Management report is www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/bassangrpt.pdf.
Other current black bass projects include the assessment of bass populations statewide, bass condition and movements following tournaments on Lake Champlain and the seasonal distribution and habitat use of largemouth bass in the lower Hudson River.
Use baitfish wisely
Anglers using fish for bait are reminded to be careful with how these fish are used and disposed of.
Careless use of baitfish is one of the primary means by which non-native species and fish diseases are spread from water to water. Unused baitfish should be discarded in an appropriate location on dry land.
A "Green List" of commercially available baitfish species approved for use in New York State has now been established in regulation. In most cases, these fish must also be certified as disease free. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the "Green List" is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected, and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle except within one of three defined overland transportation corridors.
Review the baitfish regulations webpage for details at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/47282.html.
Preventing invasive species, fish diseases
Anglers are also reminded to be sure to clean, dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water.
Boaters should be particularly conscious of plant materials that can attach to boats and trailers and should be sure to drain all water holding compartments before leaving a water body. This is the only way to prevent the spread of potentially damaging invasive plant and animal species - didymo and zebra mussels - and fish diseases - Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia and whirling disease).
Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/50121.html.
Anglers 16 years of age and older must have a New York State fishing license available on line or by calling 1-86-NY-DECALS or visiting www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html.
Fishing licenses can also be purchased from the 1,500 license issuing agents located throughout the state - town and county clerks, some major discount stores and many tackle and sporting goods stores. By law, every dollar spent on a fishing license helps fund programs conducted by the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, including the fish stocking program.
Where to fish
Anglers searching for places to fish will be interested in the I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New York State.
This map and brochure provides information on over 320 lakes and pond and 110 rivers. Anglers desiring to order a map may do so by e-mailing their name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org - include NY FISHING MAP in the subject line. An interactive version of the guide can also be found at www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/42978.html.