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Season Opens for Many Popular Warmwater Sportfish

The popular sport of freshwater sportfishing season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge opens on May 2 in New York State, the Department of Environmental Conservation reminded anglers today. Saturday, May 2 also marks the opening of the special trophy black bass season on Lake Erie where an angler can keep one 20-inch or longer fish per day thru June 20. Anglers can also take advantage of the black bass catch and release season now underway in many waters throughout the state.

Bass anglers should check the New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide on DEC’s website to ensure that the water they desire to fish is open to catch and release angling. The regular (harvest) season for black bass opens June 20.

Muskellunge anglers are reminded that the opening day for muskellunge has been moved up to the last Saturday in May (May 30, 2015). The minimum size limit has also been increased to 40 inches on all waters except the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River where it was increased to 54 inches. A number of other regulations changes were enacted April 1. These can be found in the 2015-16 Freshwater Fishing Regulations guide now available at all sporting license sales outlets.

“Although New York has become a destination for bass anglers from around the country, great fishing does not stop with bass,” said Commissioner Martens. “Fishing for muskellunge, northern pike, walleye and channel catfish is expected to be outstanding across the state this year.”

Other popular springtime targets include yellow perch, sunfish and crappie. These species are common throughout the state and provide easy fishing for even novice anglers. A complete listing of 2015 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists can be found on the DEC website.

Use Baitfish Wisely
Anglers using fish for bait are reminded to be careful with how these fish are used and disposed of. Careless use of baitfish is one of the primary means by which non-native species and fish diseases are spread from water to water. Baitfish should only be used in waters where their use is permitted. Waters in which the use of baitfish is restricted can be found in the Special Regulations section of the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide. Additional baitfish regulations, including a listing of species that are permitted to be used for bait, can be found in the guide or the baitfish regulations section of the DEC website.

Anglers are also advised not to dump bait water into the water they are fishing as this practice may spread aquatic invasive species and fish diseases. If it is necessary to refresh bait water, do it at home or on dry land prior to fishing.

Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species and Fish Diseases
Anglers and boaters can unknowingly spread aquatic invasive species unless they take appropriate measures before and after their boating or fishing trip. Anglers and boaters should be sure to clean, dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water. Boaters should be particularly conscious of plant materials that can attach to boats and trailers and should be sure to drain all water holding compartments before leaving a water body. This is an important way for anglers and boaters to help prevent the spread of potentially damaging invasive plant and animal species (didymo and zebra mussels) and fish diseases (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia and whirling disease). Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found on DEC’s website.

License Requirements
Before heading out to fish, make sure you have a current fishing license. Anyone 16 years of age and older who desires to fish in New York must have a state fishing license. Fishing licenses are also now valid for 365 days from the date of purchase, so please be sure to check that it has not expired.

New York reduced license fees in 2014 for both resident and nonresident anglers, making fishing in New York more affordable than ever. Buying a license has also been made more convenient. Anglers can purchase their license and print it for immediate use on their home computer via the NY License Center at http://licensecenter.ny.gov/. Anglers can also purchase their license by phone by calling 1-866-933-2257, or from the numerous license issuing agents across the state. Those purchasing over the phone will receive a confirmation number allowing them to fish immediately.

Those interested in purchasing a lifetime fishing license should consider a New York State Adventure license, which is incorporated on their NY Driver’s License and provides a free fishing themed license plate.

Where to Fish
Anglers searching for places to fish should visit the DEC’s fishing site on its website at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/fishing.html. An interactive map of public fishing locations can also be found on the DEC website.

NY’s Open for Fishing and Hunting
Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State.
Significant improvements to the state fish hatchery system and network of boating and fishing.
Under the initiative, the 2015-16 Enacted Budget adds an additional $8 million for state land access projects and an additional $4 million for the state’s hatcheries in NY Works funding which included repaving and painting at Caledonia Hatchery, and the acquisition of 16 new large stocking trucks and associated fish transport equipment. Other projects slated for completion this year are replacement of fish rearing raceways (Chateaugay and Caledonia), installation of new water treatment and heating equipment (Chautauqua and Oneida), and replacement of the roof at Salmon River Hatchery. Future hatchery projects under consideration include pond and raceway renovations at South Otselic, Catskill and Randolph hatcheries.

Over the past five years, more than $6 million has been invested in developing new and renovating existing boat launches. These projects include new boat launch facilities on Cuba Lake (Allegany County), Round Lake (Saratoga County) and Point Peninsula Isthmus and Three Mile Bay on Lake Ontario (Jefferson County). Boat launch renovations have been completed on Second Pond (Lower Saranac Lake) in Franklin County, Great Sacandaga Lake in Saratoga County, Lake Champlain (Peru Docks) in Clinton County and Schroon Lake (Horicon) in Warren County. By the beginning of the 2015 boating season reconstruction of boat launches on Upper Saranac Lake (Franklin County) and Forge Pond – Peconic River (Suffolk County) will have been completed. A new boat launch at Lake George Beach on Lake George will also be completed for boaters to enjoy.