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DEC: Walleye, northern pike, pickerel & tiger muskellunge fishing season opens May 1


Mon, Apr 29th 2024 07:00 am

Submitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar announced the fishing season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel, and tiger muskellunge begins May 1.

"New York is home to exceptional coolwater fishing opportunities, with many lakes and rivers renowned for abundant walleye and aggressive pike and pickerel,” Mahar said. “We hope that all anglers find the time to enjoy these fishing opportunities in 2024, and encourage those with more experience to share their enjoyment by introducing someone new to the sport.”

Walleye are challenging to catch and delicious to eat, making them one of the most prized sportfish in New York. As the largest member of the perch family, adult walleye typically weigh 1 to 3 pounds, but they can get much larger. The state record is a remarkable 18-pound, 2-ounce giant caught from the St. Lawrence River in 2018. 

Anglers don't have to look far to find exciting walleye fishing opportunities in New York, as they are found in more than 140 waterbodies across the state. Northern pike are another popular spring target for anglers. These fish can also be found throughout much of the state, and opportunities for trophy-size fish are available in a number of waters, especially in the northeast and west.

Visit DEC’s website for information on where to go fishing for walleye, pike, and other coolwater sportfish and check out the “Tacklebox” feature of the HuntFishNY app. Anglers who enjoy eating their catch are encouraged to check the latest New York State Department of Health fish advisories for 2024. Changes include more protective statewide advice for some species.

DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries recognizes catches of big sportfish, including state records, through the Angler Achievement Awards. This program was updated for 2024 with new rules, prizes, and ways to submit entries. The list of eligible species has also been expanded and now includes an award category for youth anglers. More information is available on DEC’s New York Angler Achievement Awards program webpage.

DEC reminds New Yorkers that boats, trailers, waders and other fishing equipment can spread harmful aquatic invasive species from waterbody to waterbody unless properly cleaned after use. DEC regulations prohibit boats from launching or leaving sites without first draining the boat and cleaning the boat, trailer and equipment. Furthermore, many New York counties, towns and villages also have laws in place that prohibit the transport of aquatic invasive species on boats, trailers and equipment.

To avoid spreading invasive species, follow the “Clean. Drain. Dry.” method for properly disinfecting boats and equipment before launching. If needing help, many public boat launches have boat stewards on site to inspect watercraft and gear.

DEC also encourages anglers to commit to responsible fishing practices by following guidelines. To prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS), anglers are advised to always clean, drain and dry boat/fishing equipment and practice proper use and disposal of unwanted baitfish. Report any invasive species to the iMapInvasives website. DEC and partners, including the New York State Canal Corp., are continuing to support comprehensive efforts to protect New York's waters.

For information on freshwater fishing regulations, visit DEC’s website. Information on fishing access is available through the DECinfo Locator and in the “Tackle Box” feature of the HuntFishNY app.

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