Opportunities abound for New York’s most popular freshwater sportfish
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that the traditional harvest season for largemouth and smallmouth bass opens June 20 and closes Nov. 30. In most waters, there is also a catch and release season starting on Dec. 1, and continuing until the start of the regular season, during which anglers can fish for bass using artificial lures. There are special fishing regulations for some waters, and York anglers should check the current fishing regulations guide before heading out to fish.
“New York provides some of the best bass fishing in the country, including the St. Lawrence River, which in 2019 was named the top bass ‘lake’ in the country by Bassmaster Magazine,” Seggos said. “As New Yorkers start heading outdoors for the summer season after months of staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there’s nothing better than spending time with family and friends on the water pursuing these exciting sportfish while still recreating responsibly and practicing social distancing.”
Black bass are New York’s No. 1 freshwater sportfish, because they are aggressive, typically abundant, and are found in waters throughout New York. Big bass can be caught in small neighborhood ponds, warmwater rivers and streams, and lakes of all sizes.
Often overlooked and underutilized by anglers, New York’s inland rivers and streams can provide exceptional bass fishing. Some of the state’s most well-known black bass rivers include the St. Lawrence, Susquehanna, Hudson, Seneca, Allegheny, Chemung, Mohawk, Schoharie and Raquette rivers, but there are many others throughout the state that provide unique opportunities. A recent study by DEC found smallmouth bass populations in a number of rivers and streams managed under a 10-inch minimum size limit had similar growth and size structures as populations in lakes, ponds and other rivers managed under the statewide 12-inch minimum size limit.
Anglers are reminded fishing for black bass (including catch and release) is prohibited outside of the open season in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Hamilton and Franklin counties. In these counties, black bass open season is June 20 through Nov. 30.
During the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19, DEC reminds anglers to maintain safe social distancing while fishing (PDF) to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Guidelines include:
√ Fish local: Stay close to home. Keep your fishing trip short. Avoid high-traffic destinations.
√ Be safe: Avoid crowds and groups. Keep a distance of 6 feet or more from others. When fishing from a boat, make sure it's large enough so persons on board are at least 6 feet from one another. If such distance cannot be maintained, acceptable face coverings must be worn at all times by all individuals on the vessel.
√ Stay home: If you're not feeling well, stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their trip.
√ Be adaptive: Move quickly through parking lots and paths. If crowded, choose a different fishing location, or time to visit.
√ Anglers fishing from boats should be able to maintain at least 6 feet of distance between one another. For more information on boating guidelines and safety, go to State Parks website and DEC's website.