Thursday, May 5, 2005
DEC: May 7 Marks Opening Day For Many Popular Gamefish Species
Walleye, Northern Pike, Pickerel, and Tiger Muskellunge Season Begins
Special Black Bass Season Opens on Lake Erie
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan today reminded anglers that the season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge opens Saturday, May 7, 2005. Anglers are also encouraged to take advantage of the special early season for black bass in Lake Erie, which also opens on this date.
"While New York may be well-known for the fantastic trout and bass fishing throughout the State, anglers can also find outstanding walleye, pike and pickerel fishing," Commissioner Sheehan said. "Good fishing opportunities for one or more of these popular species can be found in waters across New York."
Anglers seeking walleye should try Chautauqua Lake, Silver Lake, Cuba Lake and the Lower Niagara River in Western New York. In Central New York, anglers are encouraged to fish Honeoye Lake, Conesus Lake, Oneida Lake and Whitney Point Reservoir. To the East, Canadarago Lake, Otsego Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake, Saratoga Lake, Franklin Falls Flow, Tupper Lake and Union Falls Flow are all good bets. Thanks to a successful DEC stocking program, good walleye fishing can also be found on Long Island, with anglers reporting fish up to 6 lbs. from Lake Ronkonkoma and Fort Pond in the past 2 years.
Anglers seeking walleye in rivers should try the Oswego River, St. Lawrence River below Ogdensburg, Chemung River, Susquehanna River, Chenango River, Tioughnioga River, Unadilla River, Oswegatchie River, Mohawk River and the Hudson River, which in recent years has experienced an increase in its walleye fishery downstream of the Troy Dam. Good fishing can also be found in the lower section of many of the Hudson tributaries, including Catskill Creek, Rondout Creek and the Wallkill River. The Delaware River is also a productive walleye fishery, particularly the 50-mile section between Callicoon and Port Jervis.
Anglers fishing Lake Ronkonkoma and Fort Pond in DEC Region 1 and Schoharie Reservoir, Schoharie Creek, and Canandarago Lake in DEC Region 4 are encouraged to become angler diary cooperators. Angler cooperators keep track of their catches in diaries provided by DEC. The information provided is analyzed to assess the current status of the fisheries in these waters. Diaries are returned to the anglers along with a summary report, after the data has been analyzed by DEC. Interested anglers should contact the Region 1 office at (631) 444-0280 or Region 4 office at (607) 652-7366.
The Great Lakes continue to provide New York's finest walleye fishing opportunities. Both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario continue to produce trophy-class walleye. In Lake Ontario, good walleye populations can be found in Irondequoit Bay, Sodus Bay, Braddocks Bay, Oswego Harbor, North Sandy Pond and Port Bay. The eastern Basin of Lake Ontario, including Henderson Harbor, the Black River and Chaumont and Mud Bays also provide outstanding walleye fishing opportunities. Walleye fishing in Lake Erie is usually not at its best until June, but anglers can look forward to catching trophy walleye over five pounds throughout the New York section of the lake.
In 1940, Peter Dubuc caught a 42-pound, 2-ounce northern pike from Great Sacanadaga Lake setting a new world record and putting New York on the map as a trophy pike State. While the Dubuc fish has since been knocked into second place by a 50-pound fish caught in Germany, New York remains a top location for anglers seeking trophy pike. Top pike waters include many of the larger Adirondack lakes such as Tupper Lake, Schroon Lake, Lake George, the Saranac Lake Chain, Lake Champlain, Fourth Lake (Fulton Chain), Long Lake, Upper Chateaugay and the St. Regis Chain of Lakes. Further south, northern pike anglers can find good fishing in Saratoga Lake and Round Lake. The Great Sacandaga Lake remains a top big pike water with a number of fish weighing more than 20 pounds reportedly caught through the ice this past winter. Outside of the Adirondack region, pike anglers should try the Upper Niagara River in Western New York; Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake and Consesus Lake in central New York, as well as the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario embayments, and the Indian River Chain of lakes to the north.
Anglers who can't wait for the June 18 opener of muskellunge season in New York, are encouraged to take advantage of the DEC's tiger muskellunge stocking program. Tiger muskellunge, a northern pike/muskellunge hybrid produced in DEC hatcheries, are stocked in 40 waters throughout the State and grow to trophy proportions in many of these waters. In the eastern half of the State, good tiger waters include Cossayuna Lake, Lake Durant, Lake Lauderdale, Lincoln Pond and Round Lake in DEC Region 5; Canadarago Lake in DEC Region 4; and New Croton Reservoir and Rockland Lake in DEC Region 3. In Central New York (DEC Regions 7 and 8), anglers should try Conesus Lake, Otisco Lake, Lake Como, the Lower Chenango River and the Susquehanna River downstream of Binghamton. Horseshoe Lake and Hyde Lake are also good bets in Region 6. Good tiger muskie action can also be found in the Mohawk River from Rome downstream to Lock 16.
Many of the best chain pickerel waters are in the southeastern section of the State (DEC Regions 1 and 3). In Region 3 some good choices are the Rio and Mongaup Falls reservoirs in Sullivan County, Harriman Park Lakes in Rockland and Orange Counties and Walton Lake in Orange County. On Long Island, the Peconic River provides some of the finest chain pickerel fishing in the State. Other New York pickerel hotspots include Lake George, Brant Lake, Saratoga Lake and Lake Champlain in DEC Region 5 and Hemlock Lake and Canadice Lake in Region 8. Oneida Lake is also a good bet for chain pickerel.
Numerous other smaller waters throughout the State provide excellent fishing for walleye, northern pike, chain pickerel and tiger muskellunge. For more information, anglers should contact their local DEC regional office or on DEC's website.
Black bass anglers seeking to get a jump on the regular black bass season (which opens on most waters in New York on June 18, 2005) are reminded that a special black bass season has been in place for the past few years on Lake Erie to allow anglers to take advantage of the great fishing available for smallmouth bass during the early spring. From the first Saturday in May to the regular opener of the statewide black bass season, anglers may take one bass at least 15 inches in length per day in Lake Erie. Tributaries of the lake and the Niagara River are not included in the special early season regulation. Smallmouth bass are particularly abundant in the open waters of Lake Erie, as well as Dunkirk and Buffalo Harbors. Fish are usually in 15- to 30-foot depths along rocky drop-offs. Bass in the two- to five-pound range are abundant, with even larger fish not uncommon.
Anglers should be aware that the New York State Department of Health (DOH) has recently issued updated health advisories, with significant changes for waters in the Adirondacks and Catskills. 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 10 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 (½ 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 or by contacting the DOH toll-free information line at 1-800-458-1158.
The Department of Environmental Conservation would like to remind anglers of the important role they play in protecting the outstanding fishing opportunities that New York provides. Anglers should:
1. Be certain that they know the most current regulations for the waters they intend to fish: Restrictive 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 from 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 their boats, trailers and other fishing gear are not transporting "aquatic hitch hikers": 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. More information can be found at www.ProtectYourWaters.net.
3. Release a trophy to fight again: Many of our fish species, including all of our pike species, can grow to world-record proportions in New York waters. However, this can only happen if anglers release the intermediate size fish that they catch. For many anglers a five- or 10-pound pike, muskellunge or tiger muskellunge represents the freshwater fish of a lifetime. These species can attain far larger sizes in our waters, but only if they are released. Given the ready availability of fiberglass mounts, there is no longer a need to harvest these future trophies. 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 Stamp: Your $5 habitat stamp purchase when you purchase or renew your fishing license will help support DEC's efforts to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife related recreation. This upcoming year, the Habitat Fund will be supporting 14 projects, including 8 that will provide new, or improved access to quality fishing opportunities.
5. Consider using non-lead fishing sinkers: Anglers and New York fishing tackle retailers are reminded that the sale of small lead sinkers weighing ½ 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.