The fishing season for many popular warmwater sportfish, including walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge, opens Saturday, May 5 and with this, most of New York’s sportfish seasons will be open. This includes catch and release fishing for black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass). Muskellunge fishing season and the regular (harvest) season for black bass open on the 3rd Saturday in June (June 16). Bass anglers should check the New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide to ensure that the water they desire to fish is open to catch and release angling.
“New York provides exceptional warmwater fishing opportunities,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement to the press today. “In fact, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society recently ranked three of New York’s lakes in the top 14 on their list of the 100 best bass lakes in the country. We hope all anglers find the time to enjoy these outstanding fishing opportunities in 2012 and encourage them to share their experience by introducing someone new to the sport.”
Walleye are very popular springtime targets, and fishing opportunities now exist in more than 100 waters throughout the state. As part of ongoing management and research programs, DEC has stocked 56 waters with walleye fry or fingerlings over the last five years in almost all regions of the state.
Spring also provides outstanding fishing opportunities for yellow perch, sunfish and crappie. These species are common throughout the state and provide easy fishing for even novice anglers.
A complete listing of 2012 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists can be found on the DEC website.
DEC will continue a number of bass studies in 2012. These studies include an effort to assess black bass populations statewide, the investigation of black bass movements following bass tournaments on Lake Champlain and a tournament monitoring program on Oneida Lake. Participation from bass anglers will be requested for both tournament studies.
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. Unused baitfish should be discarded in an appropriate location on dry land. A “Green List” of commercially available baitfish species that are approved for use in New York State has now been established in regulation. In most cases, these fish must also be certified as disease free. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List“ is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected, and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle except within one of three defined overland transportation corridors.
Preventing Invasive Species and Fish Diseases
Anglers are also reminded to be sure to dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water. This is the only way to 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 the DEC website.
Anglers 16 years of age and older must have a New York State fishing license available online 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). By law, every dollar spent on a fishing license helps fund programs conducted by the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, including the fish stocking program.