DEC has surveyed New York’s licensed freshwater anglers once every decade since 1973. The latest data is from a survey conducted in 2018 and summarizes the input provided by approximately 11,000 anglers that fished the freshwaters of New York State during the 2017 calendar year.
Results of the survey revealed significant increases in angler effort for a number of waters when compared to a 2007 survey. The Saranac River experienced the greatest increase, 150 percent, as more visited to fish primarily for smallmouth bass and brown trout. Lake Champlain saw a 72% increase.
There was an increase of 141 percent in the number of anglers fishing Irondequoit Creek, a Lake Ontario tributary near Rochester, with a focus primarily on brown trout and steelhead. The Delaware River in southeastern New York has long been popular for trout fishing, and angler effort increased by about 140 percent from 2007. Conesus Lake saw an increase of 155 percent in angler activity, with northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass among the lake’s most popular species. Other waterbodies that experienced a marked increase in angling activity included Whitney Point Reservoir (76 percent) and the Batten Kill (61 percent).
Freshwater anglers had an estimated 19.89 million fishing days in 2017 in New York’s inland and Great Lakes waters, slightly more than a similar survey conducted for 2007. Many anglers fished for warmwater gamefish (44 percent), primarily largemouth and smallmouth bass. Coldwater gamefish were also popular (28 percent), including brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, steelhead, and Chinook salmon. Anglers fished primarily on inland lakes and ponds (49 percent), inland streams and rivers (25 percent), and the Great Lakes and their tributaries (22 percent).
The report concludes that combined direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of freshwater angling in New York State totaled an estimated $2.14 billion and supported 10,961 jobs in 2017. Of this total, out-of-state anglers contributed approximately 26 percent, or $564 million. Freshwater anglers spent an estimated $252 million at New York fishing destinations in 2017, and an additional $204 million was expended at home or while traveling to fishing destinations. Purchases of fishing equipment and fishing-related equipment such as boats, motors, etc., generated an estimated $1.8 billion in additional expenditures.
In his 2020 State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo proposed the Restore Mother Nature initiative, an aggressive program for habitat restoration and flood reduction. Restore Mother Nature is hoped to reduce flood risk and revitalize fish and wildlife habitats by connecting streams and waterways, right-sizing culverts and dams, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, reclaiming natural floodplains, restocking shellfish populations and upgrading fish hatcheries, preserving open space, conserving more forest areas, replanting more trees, reducing contamination from agricultural and stormwater runoff, and expanding renewable energy. One of the goals of the initiative is to make New York the top state for recreational fishing. As part of a proposed $3 billion Environmental Bond Act, New York would also invest in its hatcheries. The Governor’s program also improves fishing access sites, hand launch boat sites, and public fishing rights with an emphasis on warmwater streams and rivers.
Full results of DEC’s Statewide Angler Survey can be found on DEC’s website.
Photo of Brook Trout by Greg Dower.