For Release:Wednesday, March 24, 2004
New York State Trout Fishing Season Opens April 1
Anglers Can Look Forward To Successful Season of Fishing New York's Waters
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today encouraged anglers to begin gearing up for trout season opening day on April 1, 2004. Anglers can again look forward to a great year of fishing, thanks to the natural diversity of angling opportunities within New York and the ongoing management of the State's fisheries by DEC.
"Throughout New York State, world-class trout fishing experiences await anglers each spring," Commissioner Crotty said. "Legendary streams in the Catskills, lakes and rivers in the Adirondacks, Great Lakes tributaries, and the Finger Lakes all provide excellent trout opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors. Now is the time to get ready for another great fishing season by renewing licenses, reviewing the regulations, and making plans to get the first big catch of the season."
Due to the existing snowpack and high flow in many of the State's rivers and streams, anglers are urged to use extreme caution along slippery stream banks and while wading in high water. The early season is a great time to try some of the smaller tributaries. Smaller streams will have more manageable flows and are also more likely to hold larger populations of wild trout. Although many of the larger, more popular streams are more reliant on stocked fish, last year's relatively cool, wet summer promises plenty of holdover fish from last year's stocking.
For tactics, it is well known that early season anglers can improve their success by fishing deep and slow, and by using natural baits such as worms and minnows where permitted. Fly-fishing purists should consider heavily weighted, large, flashy streamers and nymphs, possibly coupled with a sinking line. Pond fishing is often best immediately after the winter ice melts. Since most Adirondack and Catskill ponds are likely to remain frozen for the April 1st opener, anglers should scout out areas beforehand where the possibility of frozen waters may exist. Prime areas to fish are those that warm the earliest, including tributary mouths and near surface and shallow shoreline areas. It should also be noted that ice fishing is prohibited in trout waters, except as noted in the Fishing Regulations Guide.
Anglers and New York fishing tackle retailers are reminded that effective May 7, 2004, the sale of small lead sinkers weighing ½ ounce or less will be 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 use non-lead alternatives which are readily available in tackle stores. Ingestion of lead sinkers can result in the death of loons and waterfowl.
Trout stocking of catchable-size fish generally commences in late March and early April in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island, and Western New York, and then proceeds to the Catskills and Adirondacks. This year, DEC plans to stock 2.27 million catchable-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout in almost 300 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams across the state. Spring stockings include 1.7 million brown trout, 420,000 rainbow trout and 130,000 brook trout. DEC will again include two-year-old brown trout in the spring stocking program. These fish average 12-13 inches in length, with some as large as 15 inches. Approximately 97,000 of these larger fish will be placed in lakes and streams statewide.
DEC will also stock New York waters with more than two million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon this spring to provide exciting fishing opportunities over the next several years. For those who prefer a quieter, more remote setting, more than 350,000 brook trout fingerlings will be stocked in over 330 lakes and ponds this fall, mostly by helicopter, providing unique angling opportunities for future years.
In addition to stocked waters, New York State has thousands of miles of wild trout streams that provide excellent fishing opportunities. Regional fisheries offices, which are listed in the Fishing Regulations Guide, can offer specific details about these streams. DEC also remains committed to increasing public access to New York's coldwater streams. Since 1995, DEC has acquired over 25 miles of easements and associated parking areas and footpaths to provide additional access for anglers in New York State. This brings the total to over 1,300 miles since the inception of the public fishing rights program in 1935. Public fishing rights (PFR) easements are marked by Public Fishing Rights signs, but anglers are reminded that landowners maintain the right to post these parcels against activities other than fishing. Anglers are encouraged to contact their regional office for maps or directions to PFR holdings.
The general creel limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout is five fish. The open season for trout in most New York State waters runs from April 1 through October 15, but there are exceptions in all DEC regions, so anglers should check the Fishing Regulations Guide prior to heading out on the water. Anglers are also reminded again that there are new procedures for fishing New York City reservoirs. Updated information and permit applications can be obtained at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/watershed.html or by calling 800-575-LAND.
When purchasing a fishing license, anglers should also consider purchasing a Habitat Stamp. This new stamp is available to anyone for $5 from any sporting license issuing agent. Proceeds from the sale of the stamps will be deposited in a newly created Habitat Account, part of which will be used to increase and improve angler access to coldwater streams.
Regional opening day highlights follow.
Long Island (DEC Region 1)
Long Island lakes, ponds and streams typically provide excellent early season trout angling. By the end of April, nearly 20,000 trout, including 5,000 two-year-old brown trout in the 12- to 15-inch range, will have been stocked into Long Island lakes, ponds and streams. For premier early season fly fishing action, the Carmans, Connetquot and Nissequogue rivers in Suffolk County are highly recommended. Tidal sections of these waters also provide excellent fishing opportunities and include trophy-size fish.
For anglers who prefer to fish stillwaters, Laurel Lake, Upper Lake, Lower Lake, East Lake, West Lake and Argyle Lake are recommended in Suffolk County. In Nassau County, Upper Twin Pond, Oyster Bay Mill Pond and Massapequa Reservoir are good bets. Many of these waters hold over a good number of fish from one year to the next, increasing the opportunity to catch a lunker. Anglers are also reminded that the trout season in Nassau and Suffolk counties is now open year round. In addition to the fish to be stocked this spring, 7,500 12-inch or larger brown trout were stocked during the fall of 2003. These fish have provided fast fishing action which continues to this day. Please remember that there is a three trout daily limit on Long Island and that brook trout are catch-and-release only in all streams except the Connetquot and Nissequogue in the State Parks.
Long Island trout anglers are encouraged to participate in the region's Coldwater Angler Diary Cooperator Program. Cooperating anglers are asked to keep a diary of the species, length, and location and number of trout caught during their fishing trips on Long Island. In return, cooperators receive periodic summaries of the results of the program and the satisfaction of knowing that they are making a significant contribution towards the effective management of Long Island's coldwater resources. For more information on this program please contact the regional office at (631) 444-0280.
For a complete list of Long Island trout stocked waters, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Trout Stocking List, Bureau of Fisheries, SUNY Building 40, Stony Brook, NY, 11790-2356 or check out the Region 1 Fisheries Web Site at: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/reg1/reg1bof.html.
Hudson Valley/Catskills (DEC Region 3)
Many of the Hudson River Valley's streams are stocked early, and as such, provide excellent early-season fishing. Among the most popular early season waters are Wappinger Creek, Fishkill Creek, Peekskill Hollow Brook, Sawmill River, East Branch Croton River, Tenmile River, and the Ramapo River.
In the Catskills, stocking is delayed until later in April to allow flows to recede and water temperatures to rise. In these streams, which include such nationally-renowned waters as the Beaver Kill, Willowemoc, Neversink and Esopus, wild trout and hatchery-holdovers from previous years provide the opportunity for good early season fishing. On the Delaware River, which forms the boundary between New York and Pennsylvania, trout season doesn't begin until April 17. All trout in the Delaware are wild fish, primarily browns and rainbows, spawned in the tributaries. The spawning tributaries in New York have the same delayed season opener as the Delaware to provide added protection for spawning rainbows.
Other notable trout resources in the area include 17 New York City reservoirs totaling more than 23,000 acres. Large brown trout, including occasional fish more than 20 pounds, may be found in many of these waters. Ashokan Reservoir is famous for large rainbow trout. Sometime this spring, the West Branch Croton Reservoir will join Neversink Reservoir as a landlocked salmon fishery, as the 2002 stocking of 1,500 salmon yearlings begin to grow to catchable size. All New York City watershed lands require a free permit for recreation access. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has updated and improved the permit system. Check the DEP web site at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/watershed.html to obtain information and application forms for the new permits.
During the spring and early summer, DEC hatchery staff will deliver nearly 300,000 trout to 85 streams and 30 lakes and ponds within Region 3. Included in this total will be nearly 17,000 of the larger (12-15 inch) 2-year-old brown trout, which will be distributed in about 40 of the larger and more accessible streams. This year's stocking information can be obtained by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Fisheries Office, DEC Region 3, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY, 12561.
Northern Catskills/Hudson Valley/Capital District (DEC Region 4)
Because of the wet, cool weather last summer, early season fishing should be good in all wild and stocked trout streams this year. Trout stocking in Region 4 could begin as early as late March and most streams throughout the region should be stocked by late April, weather permitting. Waters to be stocked with two-year-old brown trout along with yearling fish include both branches of the Delaware River, Catskill Creek, Beaver Kill, Schenevus Creek, Poesten Kill, Roeliff Jansen Kill, Walloomsac River, Hannacrois Creek, Kinderhook Creek, Onesquethaw Creek, Claverack Creek, Taghkanic Creek, Charlotte Creek, Ouleout Creek, Schoharie Creek, Batavia Kill, Canajoharie Creek, Otsquago Creek, Butternut Creek, Oaks Creek, Otego Creek, Wharton Creek, and Tackawasick Creek.
DEC is in the fifth year of study on the Beaver Kill/Willowemoc system in Delaware, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties. Again this year, radio transmitters will be surgically implanted in approximately 90 yearling hatchery brown trout and 45 two-year-old brown trout. These fish will be placed in the upper "no kill" reach of the Beaver Kill and the "no kill" reach of the Willowemoc. The purpose of this work is to monitor the movement of these trout. Some of these radio-tagged trout might move outside of the "no kill" regulation areas so anglers are asked to release all fish with external antennas and report the fish location to the regional fisheries office in Stamford. Should any of these radio-tagged trout be creeled, the anglers are asked to contact the fisheries office in Stamford and make arrangements to return the tag.
Angler diary cooperators continue to be needed again this year. Fishermen who routinely fish on the East Branch, the West Branch, and the main Delaware River are asked to sign up for the Diary Cooperator Program this season. The diary program is being established to monitor the trout fishery on both the rivers and in the reservoirs.
Anglers should remember that the "border water" reach on the West Branch of the Delaware River, where New York and Pennsylvania share a common boundary, has a delayed season which does not open until April 17 this year. This delayed season also applies to all tributaries to the Delaware River located in Delaware County and to the East Branch tributaries between Hancock and the Hamlet of East Branch.
Additional anglers are also needed as cooperators for the Otsego Lake Angler Diary program and the post card survey. These two programs are intended to collect fishery data and catch information on lake trout, brown trout and landlocked salmon. While angler diary cooperators will be issued a diary to be used all season, participation in the post card survey will be on a "per trip" basis as cards are distributed to anglers at the launching ramp in Cooperstown. The completed card can then be returned to DEC by regular mail, pre-paid postage included. Data collected from these two surveys will be very important in making fisheries management decisions for Otsego Lake.
Angler Diary Cooperators for all waters will be issued a diary where all trip and catch information can be recorded. All diaries will be returned to the cooperator along with an annual summary of results prior to the start of the 2005 fishing season. In order to participate in the East Branch, West Branch, main Delaware River, Pepacton Reservoir, Cannonsville Reservoir and Otsego Lake Angler Diary Programs, please contact NYSDEC, Fisheries Unit, by mail at Route 10, Stamford, NY, 12167, or by phone at (607) 652-7366.
Four new fishing parking areas have been developed in the region; three on Catskill Creek and one on the upper West Branch of the Delaware River. The northern-most parking area on Catskill Creek is located on State Route 145 in Schoharie County, just south of Livingstonville, near the Albany County line. The second parking area is south of the junction of State Route 145 and State Route 81. The third area is further downstream, adjacent to the Town of Durham office and garage on County Route 27, in Greene County. The West Branch, Delaware River, fishing parking area is located upstream of the Village of Delhi in Delaware County. The sign marking this area is scheduled to be installed prior to April 1.
Looking for a new fishing spot? Many of the smaller, less well-known streams are identified in brochures such as Capital District Fishing, Fishing Delaware County, and Catskill Fishing. Stocking lists are also available. These can all be obtained by writing the Stamford Fisheries Unit at the address given above. Anglers with access to the internet can find a great deal of information from the DEC website at: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/index.html . Other websites, such as the one operated by the United States Geological Survey (http://www.usgs.gov), can provide up-to-date flow information for a number of the larger streams. Finally, West Branch anglers wanting to know current releases can call 1-845-295-1006. This hotline is run as a cooperative effort with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and Trout Unlimited.
Adirondacks (DEC Region 5)
Snow pack has been only moderate except in the higher elevations of Region 5. Lower elevation streams may have reasonable flows, depending on rainfall as opening day approaches. Higher elevation streams are more likely to have runoff from snow melt. High flows combined with cold temperatures generally make opening day challenging in those higher elevation streams.
Best bets for early season angling in the southern part of the region are the Batten Kill, Kayaderosseras and Mettawee rivers. The Chateaugay River offers good fishing in the northern part of Region 5.
Many regional streams and rivers will be stocked in April and May. However, it is likely that few, if any, streams in the northern part of the region will be accessible or warm enough for stocking prior to opening day. If possible, yearling brook trout will be stocked in the Chateaugay River in Franklin County before the season begins.
Hundreds of smaller streams contain wild brook or brown trout. Try fishing deep pools and riffle areas with live bait where it is allowed. Fish slowly, especially if the water is cold, high, and swift.
Ice-out may not occur until later on many northern lakes. During the beginning stages of ice-out, excellent trout fishing should be available in open water areas near the shoreline. Once waters are ice free and temperatures rise, surface trolling for salmon and lake trout is a good bet on the larger lakes. Brook trout pond fishing is good from ice-out through May.
Anglers are reminded that in many Adirondack ponds, the use of fish as bait is prohibited. For waters where the use of fish as bait is prohibited, check the "Special Regulations by County" section in the Fishing Regulations Guide, or contact the DEC's Region 5 Fisheries Office in Ray Brook at (518) 897-1333. A variety of leaflets are also available from the regional office including stocking lists for Region 5, top fishing waters in Region 5, a list of reclaimed trout ponds, and others.
For up-to-date information on fishing conditions in the region, anglers can call these DEC fishing hotlines:(518) 623-3682 for the southern Adirondacks and (518) 891-5413 for the northern and central Adirondacks.
North Country (DEC Region 6)
The opening of trout season should be good on most of the area's waters. West Canada Creek, the Mohawk River below Delta Lake, Oriskany Creek, St. Regis River, and Sauquoit Creek should all provide good fishing. The relatively cool, wet summer and fall of 2003 should provide a substantial number of holdover fish. With the above average snowfall in southern Region 6 anglers should use extreme caution on streams with high snow banks and ice covering flowing water. Personal flotation devices, polarized sunglasses, and felt or other gripping soled waders should be worn at all times. Fishing will improve when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees. This usually occurs in mid to late April in the Mohawk River Valley and early to mid May in the Tug Hill and Western Adirondack Regions.
The only stream that receives a preseason stocking is the Oswegatchie River, below Cranberry Lake. Stocking proceeds from the Mohawk Valley in mid-April, north to St. Lawrence County throughout the month of May. The popular two-year-old brown trout stocking occurs in early May on some of the region's larger, more accessible streams. Worms usually produce the best catches this time of year, when the water temperatures are colder and the fish are more sluggish. Spinners and salted minnows are also popular lures. For best results, fish the pools and slow, deep riffles. Fishing in the late afternoon after the water has been warmed by the sun is also productive.
Lake Ontario tributaries should offer good fishing conditions for steelhead. Try Stony Creek, North and South Sandy Creeks, Lindsey Creek, Skinner Creek and the Black River in Watertown, from the Mill Street dam down to the Village of Dexter. Use egg sacs, single hook spinners, wet flies and streamers.
Central New York (DEC Region 7)
Steelhead anglers heading for tributaries to Lake Ontario do not have to wait until April 1, because there is no closed season for trout and salmon in waters up to the first barrier impassable to fish. The peak of this run generally occurs in mid- to late-March with steelhead averaging eight to ten pounds, and some as large as 20 pounds. The Salmon River at Pulaski is the best steelhead stream in the area. Other productive waters are Little Sandy Creek, Grindstone Creek, and the Oswego River.
Lake Ontario shoreline fishing is expected to be productive. Hot spots will be at Fair Haven, Oswego Harbor, and Mexico Bay.
Trout fishing on the Finger Lakes also should be productive. Good fishing is already occurring and is expected to carry through to mid-April on Cayuga and Owasco Lakes. Both offer fishing for brown trout, rainbow trout and lake trout, with Cayuga also having landlocked salmon. Skaneateles Lake offers good fishing for lake trout and rainbow trout as well as landlocked salmon.
For good fishing on Finger Lake tributaries (which open to trout fishing on April 1) try Salmon Creek, Cayuga Inlet, Yawgers Creek and Fall Creek on Cayuga Lake; Hemlock Creek and Owasco Inlet on Owasco Lake; and Grout Brook on Skaneateles Lake.
Other streams providing excellent early trout fishing include: Nine Mile, Limestone and Butternut creeks in Onondaga County; Oquaga Creek in Broome County; the Otselic River in Chenango and Cortland counties; Genegantslet Creek in Chenango County; Chittenango Creek in Madison County; the west branch of Tioughnioga River in Cortland County; Fall and Virgil creeks in Tompkins County and the east and west branches of Owego Creek in Tioga County.
Anglers are reminded that most waters in Region 7 are managed under a five trout daily creel limit, with no more than two fish being longer than 12 inches. Anglers may keep five additional brook trout less than eight inches in most Region 7 waters. Be sure to check the Fishing Regulations Guide for exceptions to these regulations.
Finger Lakes (DEC Region 8)
Early season Finger Lake tributary rainbow trout fishing should be good. For opening day, try fishing for rainbows throughout all reaches of tributaries such as Naples Creek and Catharine Creek. Stocked and wild brown trout can also be caught in a number of the region's streams. Quality fishing can be found at Oatka and Spring Creeks near Caledonia (Livingston and Monroe counties), throughout the Cohocton River from Cohocton to Bath (Steuben County), and Cayuta Creek near Odessa (Schuyler and Chemung counties).
Anglers are reminded that a new regulation for Region 8 trout streams went into effect on October 1, 2002. The general limit on trout is now five fish per day of any size, with no more than two longer than 12 inches. Check the Fishing Regulations Guide for other special regulations in the region.
Lake Ontario tributaries such as Oak Orchard Creek, Genesee River and Irondequoit Creek should provide good steelhead fishing prior to the traditional April 1 opener. Most Lake Ontario tributaries are open for fishing year round.
Early April should offer opportunities for near-shore fishing on Lake Ontario. Brown trout, rainbow trout, coho salmon and a few chinooks should be available near shore. Pier fishing and shallow water trolling in mid- to late-April should be very productive. Look for trout and salmon "hot spots" in warm water pockets from Rochester to Sodus and vicinity. Even small reaches having only two or three degree warmer surface temperatures attract these fish.
Western New York (DEC Region 9)
Best bets for opening day stream fishing include the Genesee River, Ischua Creek, Goose Creek, East Koy Creek and Upper Cattaraugus Creek. Each of these local favorites is heavily stocked with yearling trout and a "salting"of larger two-year-olds. An added bonus to anglers plying these waters is the capture of an occasional wild trout. When high water in streams makes fishing difficult, anglers may prefer to try the six inland trout lakes (Allen, Case, Harwood, New Albion, Quaker, and Red House) that are heavily stocked and provide good access for shore or boat fishing. In the Buffalo/Niagara metropolitan area, Ellicott Creek in Amherst State Park and Oppenheim Park in the Town of Wheatfield will be stocked for the second consecutive year, providing particularly good fishing opportunities for young anglers.
Great Lakes waters, open year-round for salmon and trout, should continue to provide excellent angling. Steelhead and rainbow trout will be available in Twelve Mile Creek, Keg Creek, Eighteen Mile Creek and the Lower Niagara River in Niagara County. Lake Erie tributaries that will have steelhead and rainbow runs are Chautauqua Creek, Canadaway Creek, Cattaraugus Creek Eighteen Mile Creek, Cazenovia Creek and the Buffalo River. Brown trout and coho salmon will be nearshore in Lake Ontario and in the harbors at Fort Niagara, Wilson and Olcott.
To assist anglers in finding public fishing access on regional trout streams, color brochures of those streams that can be found at the following DEC website: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/fish/pfr
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