Opening day for trout and salmon fishing is April 1 with high, cold water and icy banks and streambeds anticipated which could make for a dangerous early season angling, particularly in northern areas of the state, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today reminded.
Early season trout are typically lethargic and anglers will have best success using bait and lures such as spinners that can be fished slow and deep. Fishing will improve markedly once water temperatures warm later in the spring. This also encourages aquatic insect activity, which will improve opportunities for those preferring to use fly fishing gear. Some of the best fishing of the year in lakes and ponds often occurs immediately following ice out, which can be as late as May in some northern Adirondack ponds.
DEC plans to stock more than 2.1 million catchable-size brook, brown and rainbow trout in 307 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams across the state. Spring stockings will include 1.51 million brown trout, 432,000 rainbow trout and 158,000 brook trout. Approximately 97,000 two-year-old brown trout 12-13 inches in length will also be stocked into lakes and streams across the state. Due to a disease outbreak last year at the Rome Hatchery approximately 131,000 brook and brown trout were lost that would have been part of the fall 2012 and spring 2013 stocking program. However, the loss of these fish is not anticipated to significantly impact the quality of fishing for these species this upcoming season. Approximately 25,000 additional rainbow trout will be available for stocking the upcoming season.
Roughly 2.05 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon will be also be stocked by DEC this spring to provide exciting angling opportunities over the next several years. For those who prefer a quieter, more remote setting, more than 330,000 brook trout fingerlings will be stocked in 342 lakes and ponds this spring and fall, providing unique angling opportunities for future years. For a complete list of waters planned to be stocked with trout this spring, go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html. A listing of waters stocked with all sizes of trout last year can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30467.html.
DEC’s stocking program traditionally commences in late March and early April with the stocking of catchable-size trout in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island and western New York. It then proceeds, as weather and stream conditions permit, to the Catskills and Adirondacks.
Early season trout fishing recommendations by DEC staff in each region can be found in the 2013 Coldwater Fishing Forecast at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/63598.html . Anglers searching for places to fish will be interested in the I FISH NY Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New York State. This map/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 . DEC’s website also provides specific locations on streams where DEC has purchased fishing easements. This information can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9924.html. Anglers are encouraged to contact a DEC Regional Office for questions on fishing opportunities within a specific region.
During the upcoming trout season, creel surveys and trout population assessments will continue on eight streams across the state to check the performance of the Catch Rate Oriented Trout Stocking (CROTS) model used by DEC to set stocking rates. This mathematical model depends on a number of variables such as natural mortality, catch rate, and harvest rate that may have changed since the model was first developed. The current research project, conducted in partnership with Cornell University, is designed to assess the validity of estimates of these variables and allow DEC to make any necessary adjustments to the stocking model. The study streams for this third and final year of the project are as follows: Carmans River, Kinderhook Creek, Kayaderosseras Creek, Oriskany Creek, Big Creek, Otselic River, Meads Creek, and East Koy Creek.
Anglers fishing these waters can help by answering a few questions on their fishing trip if approached by a DEC creel clerk and by allowing the clerk to examine and measure any harvested fish. Anglers can also help by completing and returning the postage-paid catch cards distributed by the clerks. As in 2012, all anglers returning catch cards to Cornell University will be entered in a random drawing for a $100 cash prize. The winner of the 2012 drawing was Ms. Jeanne Beck who returned a card documenting her fishing trip on Esopus Creek. Congratulations to Ms. Beck and all the other anglers who contributed to the research by returning cards or being interviewed by creel clerks.
Anglers are reminded to be sure to disinfect their fishing equipment, including waders and boots before entering a new body of water. Since 2007, Didymo, an invasive algae species, has been discovered in the Battenkill and Kayderosseras Creek in DEC Region 5, Esopus Creek and Rondout Creek in Region 3 and the Little Delaware River, West Branch Delaware River and East Branch Delaware River in Region 4. Didymo can attach to waders, particularly felt soles, and this is believed to be the primary mechanism for its spread from its initial discovery location. Wading anglers are encouraged to use readily available alternatives to felt-soled waders and wading boots. All gear should be dried and/or disinfected before it is used in a new body of water. Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/50121.html.
Anyone 16 years of age and older who desires to fish in New York must have a New York State fishing license, available on line at www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html or by calling 1-86-NY-DECALS. 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). An interactive map providing the locations of these agents is now available on line at www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/42978.html . By law, every dollar spent on a fishing license helps fund the DEC fish stocking program and other programs conducted by the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources. When buying a license, consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp to help fund important access and habitat projects. For more information on the Habitat/Access Stamp Program, go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/329.html.
Governor Cuomo’s NY’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, effective February 1, 2014, includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions. New York is ranked sixth in nation as a fishing destination based on number of non-resident anglers (nearly 300,000 anglers).
New York State remains near the top in hunter and angler licenses, an estimated 1.88 million anglers and 823,000 hunters, indicating a mostly stable group of participants. The same study found in 2011 New York was second in the nation in total angler spending on fishing-related items and sixth in non-resident angler spending. This spending generated an estimated $108 million in state and local taxes.