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Free Fishing on Lake Ontario (including the Lower Niagara River) and St. Lawrence River

woman holding a fish on a boat on Lake Ontario

Governor Cuomo is giving New York residents and visitors an opportunity to cast a line this summer in some of the best fishing spots in the state - Lake Ontario (including the Lower Niagara River) and the St. Lawrence River - even if they don't have a fishing license. Through September 2, 2019, all anglers are able to fish the New York waters of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River without needing to purchase a state fishing license.

Lake Ontario is known as a haven for trophy trout and salmon fishing. In its 2019 rankings, and for the first time ever, Bassmaster Magazine named the St. Lawrence River the top bass fishing destination in the nation. While lake levels are expected to remain above average, recent history has proven that fishing in these waters will remain first-rate. There is great fishing to be had by anglers of all skill levels from shore or by boat. For those interested in a guided trip, many fishing charter companies and guides are available for hire.

During this time, all applicable state and federal laws and regulations regarding seasons, catch rates, and size limits still apply.

There are additional 2019 free fishing dates later in the season, including September 28, National Hunting and Fishing Day, and November 11, Veterans Day.

To learn more about fishing Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence and New York State fishing regulations, DEC's Guide to Great Lakes Fishing (PDF) contains valuable information about the area's waters and tips for increasing success. For more regional news, fishing reports and local information, visit the I Love NY website.

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