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Saturday marks the season opener for many popular warmwater sportfish

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The state fishing season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge opens Saturday, marking the opening of most of New York’s freshwater sportfish seasons, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today as part of Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative. Catch and release fishing for black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) in many waters across the state and the special trophy black bass season on Lake Erie where anglers can take one 20-inch or longer fish per day also begins May 3.

Bass anglers should check the New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide (http://www.eregulations.com/newyork/fishing/) to ensure that the water they desire to fish is open to catch and release angling. Anglers are reminded that the muskellunge fishing season and the regular (harvest) season for black bass open on the 3rd Saturday in June, which is June 21 this year.

“Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative recognizes the immense value of New York’s sport fishing industry,” said Commissioner Martens. “Waters such as Lake Erie, Oneida Lake and Lake Champlain are routinely ranked by national magazines and fishing organizations as providing some of the best fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass in the nation. However, the quality warmwater fishing New York has to offer goes well beyond these species. New York also has excellent muskellunge, northern pike and chain pickerel populations for anglers to enjoy, along with excellent fishing for yellow perch, sunfish, and crappie.”

Channel catfish, a popular sportfish in southern and Midwestern states, are abundant in many of New York’s larger lakes and rivers, provide a very tasty meal and are generally underutilized by anglers. Other popular springtime targets include yellow perch, sunfish and crappie. These species are common throughout the state and provide easy fishing for even beginner anglers. A complete listing of 2014 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists as well as tips and locations for catching big channel catfish and panfish are available on DEC’s website.

While chain pickerel and tiger muskellunge are consistently active most of the year, walleye and northern pike fishing can be particularly good in the cool water conditions of early spring. Due to stocking and other DEC management efforts, walleye are now found in more than 140 waters throughout the state and quality fisheries exist in every major watershed. Advice for catching walleye can be found on DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7749.html.

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 waterbody to waterbody. 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 is now established in regulaion.

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 only on the water from which they were collected, and may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle except within one of three defined overland transportation corridors. Review the baitfish regulations webpage for details at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/47282.html. 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.

Preventing Invasive Species and Fish Diseases: Anglers are also reminded to 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 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 at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/50121.html.

License Requirements: All anglers 16 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license to fish the freshwaters of New York State. Licenses can be purchased by phone at 1-866-933-2257 or on-line at http://licensecenter.ny.gov/. On-line Licenses can be printed from a home computer. Anglers who purchase by phone will receive a confirmation number to use immediately as proof of holding a license until their actual license is received in the mail. Licenses can also be purchased from the numerous license issuing agents located throughout the state (town and county clerks, some major discount stores and many tackle and sporting goods stores).

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 at http://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/42978.html.

NY’s Open for Fishing and Hunting: Gov. 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.

In support of this initiative, this year’s budget includes $6 million in NY Works funding to support creating 50 new land and water access projects to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone largely untapped until now. These 50 new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas. In addition, the 2014-15 budget includes $4 million to repair the state’s fish hatcheries.

This year’s budget also reduces short-term fishing licenses fees; increases the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; authorizes DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses; and authorizes free Adventure Plates for new lifetime license holders, discounted Adventure Plates for existing lifetime license holders and regular fee Adventure Plates for annual license holders.

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