DEC Encourages Residents, Visitors to Enjoy New York's Many Fishing Opportunities
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan reminded anglers that the State's bass fishing season opens Saturday, June 18, 2005.
"As reflected by the increasing number of national bass fishing events conducted on our waters each year, New York's reputation as a top location for anglers seeking largemouth and smallmouth bass continues to grow," Commissioner Sheehan said. "Although our most popular waters such as Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence and Hudson Rivers continue to provide outstanding bass fishing opportunities, thousands of smaller waters throughout the State provide fantastic fishing for our most popular sportfish."
In addition to the aforementioned waters, other bass hot spots include Chautauqua Lake, Silver Lake, the Cassadaga Lakes, Bear Lake, Honeoye Lake, Conesus Lake, Quaker Lake and Red House Lake in the west; Tupper Lake, Long Lake, Lake George, Schroon Lake, Saratoga Lake, Chateaugay Lake, Chazy Lake, Black Lake and the Saranac chain of lakes in the north.
For those anglers seeking a small-water Adirondack bass fishing experience, Tooley Pond and Nicks Lake in DEC Region 6 provide excellent bass fishing on a catch-and-release basis. In Central/North-Central New York, Cayuga Lake, Oneida Lake, Owasco Lake, Otisco Lake and North Sandy Pond are all good bass fishing locations.
In the southeastern part of the State, New York City reservoirs such as Cross River and Titicus are top bets for quality bass fishing. Anglers wishing to fish any of the New York City reservoirs should be aware that a permit is required for all recreational activities on City-owned water supply land. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/html/dep/watershed/html/wsrecreation.html on the City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) website.
Southeastern New York anglers are also encouraged to fish the many waters found within the region's State Parks, including Rudd Pond, Canopus Lake, Mohansic Lake and Lake Tiorati. All of these waters contain good bass populations. Anglers visiting this part of the State should be aware that the popular Mongaup River reservoirs (Swinging Bridge, Mongaup Fall and Rio) are currently closed to all public access due to ongoing dam repairs and may continue to be closed for the remainder of the summer.
On Long Island, where the bass season opened on June 4, 2005, excellent bass fishing can be found in the Peconic River and its impoundments - Lake Ronkonkoma, Fort Pond, Big Reed Pond, Fresh Pond (Hither Hills State Park) and Blydenburgh Lake. Efforts to rebuild bass populations in Nassau County by prohibiting bass harvest continues to be a success, with bass populations in Upper and Lower Twin Pond, Massapequa Reservoir and Massapequa Lake rebounding nicely. Long Island anglers should also be aware that catch-and-release bass fishing in Artist Lake and Belmont Lake is now permitted year-round. Anglers fishing the freshwaters of Long Island are also encouraged to participate in the angler diary program underway in the region that will be valuable in future DEC fishery management efforts.
For more information concerning the angler diary program, contact the DEC regional office at (631) 444-0280.
New York City residents can also experience quality bass fishing. Waters such as Prospect Park Lake, Kissena Lake and the Harlem Meer all provide excellent bass fishing opportunities. Anglers are reminded that all angling in New York City is strictly on a catch-and-release basis and other New York City Parks regulations may also apply. For a complete listing of bass fishing waters in New York City and Long Island, request the pamphlet "Fishing the Freshwaters of Long Island and New York City" from either the Region 1 (631-444-0280) or Region 2 (718-482-4922) DEC offices.
With the exception of the Hudson and St. Lawrence, New York's rivers are often overlooked when it comes to bass fishing. However, these flowing waters can provide some of the fastest action of the season. In northern New York, good bets for river anglers seeking bass are the major Eastern Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River tributaries such as the Black, Indian, Oswegatchie and St. Regis rivers, as well as sections of the Saranac system. The upper Hudson River above the Troy Dam offers excellent fishing for both smallmouth and largemouth bass on a catch-and-release basis. In the western part of the State, weed edges and shoals in the Upper Niagara River provide excellent habitat for largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as the occasional northern pike and muskellunge.
Smallmouth bass dominate the catch for anglers fishing the section of the Niagara River below the falls, where recent anglers' surveys have shown very high catch rates for this species. Anglers are also encouraged to fish the Genesee and Allegheny rivers with a canoe as the recommended method of access.
For North-Central New York residents, the Seneca, Oswego, Oneida and Genesee rivers usually offer good opening day action for bass. Eastern New York anglers should try the Schoharie Creek downstream of the dam at Blenheim-Gilboa, and the Mohawk River. In central New York, the Susquehanna River system, including the Chenango, Otselic, Chemung, Tioughnioga and Unadilla rivers, are lightly fished and readily accessible to wading and canoe or cartop boat anglers. There are numerous access sites along these waters for comfortable floating-and-fishing outings.
Anglers looking for smallmouth bass fishing in the streams of southeastern New York should consider the Walkill River and Lower Rondout Creek in Ulster County. These moderate size streams are accessible via canoe or wading and provide excellent opportunities for flyfishing, as well as other techniques. The Delaware River also provides substantial wade and boat fishing opportunities for smallmouth, particularly the 50 miles between Callicoon and Port Jervis.
New York Bass anglers should be aware that the DEC is considering a proposal to change the current statewide black bass (largemouth and smallmouth) fishing regulations. The proposal increase fishing opportunities by allowing bass fishing (with restrictions) during the portion of the year that is currently closed to bass fishing.
This would provide additional bass fishing opportunities in waters throughout the state while minimizing risks to bass populations through the establishment of a catch-and-release only (artificial lures only) regulation during the winter and spring months. Details about the proposal can be found at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/fishregs/bassregschangefaq.html on DEC's website. Public comments on the proposal can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be accepted through June 30, 2005.
Anglers are reminded that the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has recently issued updated health advisories, with significant changes that anglers fishing Adirondack and Catskill waters should be aware of. Based on new information on mercury concentrations in fish in Adirondack and Catskill waters, women of childbearing years and children under the age of 15 should avoid eating any northern pike, pickerel, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and larger yellow perch (over 9 inches in size) from any water in the Adirondack and Catskill regions. This advice is in addition to the specific advisories posted for 117 New York waters, and the general fish consumption advisory that recommends that anglers not consume more than 1 meal (1/2 lb.of fish) per week from any of the State's freshwaters and selected marine waters at the mouth of the Hudson River. More information on fish consumption advisories in New York State, including the complete list of waters with specific advisories can be found at the DOH's website at http://www.nyhealth.gov/nysdoh/fish/fish.htm, or by contacting the DOH's toll-free information line at 1-800-458-1158.
Anglers are also reminded of their important role in protecting the outstanding bass fishing opportunities that New York provides. Anglers are reminded to:
1. Be certain that they know the most current regulations for the waters they intend to fish. Fishing regulations are put in place to maintain or improve fishing opportunities, but can only work if they are followed. Numerous exceptions to the statewide regulations exist in each DEC region. Regulations may be found in the 2004-2006 Fishing Regulations Guide issued with your license, or at: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/fishregs/index.html on DEC's website. Anglers should also be sure that they have the current year's fishing license before hitting the water.
2. Be certain that your boats, trailers and other fishing gear are not transporting "aquatic hitchhikers." Boaters and anglers are reminded that they are a common mechanism by which nuisance exotic species such as Eurasian water milfoil, zebra mussels and numerous undesirable fish species are spread in New York. Anglers should never dump unused bait into a body of water unless the bait was taken from that body of water. Boaters should make certain that their trailers, boat props and other locations where vegetation may cling are clean before leaving the water from which the "weeds" were collected. Livewells and bilges should also be drained prior to leaving a launch-site and allowed to dry before launching into a new body of water. Similarly, non-boating anglers should be certain that their waders and other fishing gear are free of mud, plants, fish or animals before leaving the water they have been fishing.
3. Release a trophy to fight again. This can make a big difference in maintaining or improving the quality of a bass fishery. This is particularly the case in some of the nutrient poor bass waters of the Adirondacks that contain smaller bass populations with relatively slow growth of individual fish. Given the ready availability of fiberglass mounts, there is no longer a need to harvest a fish to get a quality mount. All one needs is a photo of the fish, along with a length and girth measurement, for a taxidermist to produce a quality and longer lasting mount. The fish can then be released to grow even larger and provide the same thrill for another angler in the future.
4. Purchase a Habitat/Access Stamp or "Conserve Habitat" License Plate. While purchasing or renewing your fishing license, consider voluntarily purchasing a $5 habitat stamp that helps support the Department's efforts to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and increase public access for fish- and wildlife-related recreation. This upcoming year, Habitat Stamp revenue will be supporting 14 projects, including eight that will provide new or improved access to quality fishing opportunities. Last month, DEC also unveiled the new "Conserve Habitat" custom license plate available through the State Department of Motor Vehicles. Revenue from the sale of the plates will be used to protect, restore, and manage habitat, and to develop public access for fish- and wildlife-related recreation and study.
5. Consider using non-lead fishing sinkers. Anglers and New York fishing tackle retailers are reminded that the sale of small lead sinkers weighing 1/2 ounce or less is prohibited in New York State. Sale of jig heads, weighted flies, artificial lures or weighted line are not included in this prohibition. Although the law does not prohibit the use of lead sinkers of this size, anglers are encouraged to seek non-lead alternatives which are readily available in tackle stores. Ingestion of lead sinkers has been linked to the death of waterfowl and loons.
For a listing of additional waters that offer good fishing for warmwater fish species including bass, visit www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/introwwfsh.html at DEC's website. In addition, over 400 lake contour (depth) maps of many popular New York lakes and ponds are also now available in electronic format at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/lakemaps/index.html also on DEC's website.