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DEC announces fishing season opens May 4 for many popular coolwater fish species


Mon, Apr 29th 2019 01:25 pm

Exceptional fishing predicted for several New York state waters

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the first Saturday in May marks the beginning of the fishing season for several popular coolwater sportfish species, including walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge. He noted the coolwater conditions of early spring can render walleye and northern pike fishing particularly good, and anglers are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities New York has to offer.

“Exceptional fishing opportunities can be found across New York, with many lakes and rivers renowned for abundant walleye and aggressive pike and pickerel,” Seggos said. “I encourage all anglers to find the time to enjoy, and share with others, the great fishing that can be found here.”

From Long Island to Lake Erie, walleye occur in every major watershed and more than 140 waters throughout New York. Three of the state’s top walleye fisheries – Lake Erie, Oneida Lake and Chautauqua Lake – are projected to provide very good fishing again in 2019.

In Lake Erie, four exceptional walleye year-classes have occurred since 2010, which should provide excellent walleye fishing this year and for several years to come. The Oneida Lake population is benefitting from lower-than-normal angler harvest since 2016, and a large 2014 year-class that recruited into the fishery in 2018.

A combination of successful stocking and natural reproduction has significantly improved the fishing in Chautauqua Lake in recent years. Walleye from 18 to 21 inches are especially abundant in the lake as a result of large 2014 and 2015 year-classes. Read the “2018 Chautauqua Lake Annual Fall Walleye Survey Fisheries Technical Brief” for details.

A complete listing of fishing hotspots recommendations can be found on the DEC website.

Where to Fish

Anglers searching for places to fish can visit the “Places to Fish” page on the DEC website. A variety of helpful fishing information can also be requested via the website. The New York Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife app is another tool available that gives both novice and seasoned outdoorsmen and women essential information to plan and prepare for fishing trips with up-to-date access information on fishing, hunting and wildlife watching sites. The app also provides immediate access to species profiles, rules and regulations, and important permits and licensing details.

Help Prevent Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species & Fish Diseases

Anglers and boaters can help the state prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by taking appropriate measures before and after boating and fishing trips. Anglers and boaters should be sure to clean, dry or disinfect 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 and fish diseases.

Methods to clean and disinfect fishing and boating gear can be found on DEC's website.

New York Angler Achievement Awards Program

Each year, New York state's lakes, rivers, ponds and streams produce large numbers of trophy-sized fish. DEC's Angler Achievement Awards Program recognizes exceptional catches in several categories, including the annual award recognizing anglers who caught the three heaviest fish of the year for 43 different species; the catch-and-release awards for 21 major gamefish species; and the state record award that recognizes anglers who break current state records for any of the 45 eligible fish species.

For more specific information on the rules, see rules for entry or download the entry form (PDF, 60 kb) from the DEC website. Anglers can also obtain these rules from any DEC regional fisheries office, or by writing to: NYSDEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-4753.

License Requirements

Before heading out to fish, anglers must have a current fishing license. Anyone 16 years of age or older who desires to fish in New York is required to have a state fishing license, which are valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. Anglers desiring a reminder of when their license expires should be certain to provide their email address at the time of license purchase. Anglers can purchase a license and print it for immediate use on their home computer via the NY License Center. Anglers can also purchase their license by phone by calling 1-866-933-2257, or from the numerous license-issuing agents across the state. Those purchasing over the phone will receive a confirmation number allowing them to fish immediately.

Those interested in purchasing a lifetime fishing license can consider a New York state “Adventure” license, which is incorporated on their New York state driver's license and provides a free fishing-themed license plate.

License purchasers are reminded that, by law, every dollar spent on a fishing license helps fund fish stocking and other programs conducted by the state's Bureau of Fisheries. DEC also encourages anglers to consider purchasing a habitat/access stamp, which helps fund important access and habitat improvement projects. For more information on the habitat/access stamp program, visit DEC's website.

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