Upper Hudson River Catch-and-Release Fishing
On August 30, 1995, New York State reopened the Upper Hudson River to sportfishing on a catch-and-release basis only. All fish caught in the river section between the Federal Dam at Troy and Bakers Falls in the Village of Hudson Falls, New York, must be immediately returned to the water without unnecessary injury to the fish. Since no fish may be possessed here, the use or possession of fish as bait is also prohibited.
The catch-and-release regulation applies to all tributaries in this section of the Hudson River up to first barrier (such as a dam or waterfall) that is impassable to fish. New York State fishing license requirements apply to all anglers age 16 and older.
Why Catch and Release Only
For Your Health- In 1976, the Upper Hudson River was closed to fishing due to extremely high amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish. These levels posed a high risk of possible harmful health effects in humans.
Since 1976, the manufacture of PCBs has been banned and their use phased out. However, PCB levels in fish from these waters still remain well above acceptable levels for human consumption. Since very little, if any, PCBs are transmitted to people through the handling of fish, catch and release will allow people to enjoy fishing without getting the elevated PCB exposures they would have if they ate these fish.
Health Risks - PCBs build up in your body over time, and may be harmful to your health. Studies have shown that PCBs can cause cancer and reproductive and developmental problems with animals. We don't know whether PCBs cause cancer in humans, but some studies suggest that PCBs may cause developmental effects in infants whose mothers were exposed to PCBs and other contaminants. Therefore, women of childbearing age need to be especially careful not to eat contaminated fish from the upper Hudson. During pregnancy and when breast feeding, women could pass contaminants on to their babies. Children under the age of 15 should not eat contaminated fish since they are still growing and developing, and are at a higher risk from PCB exposure.
For the Fishery - During the time the upper Hudson River was closed to fishing, the fish populations had the opportunity to improve in numbers and quality. Large fish are common. Besides minimizing the eating of PCB contaminated fish, catch and release will help us to maintain high quality sportfishing opportunities.
Here are a few guidelines to help you be sure that the fish you release will have the best possible chance to live:
- Consider using barbless hooks - many experts feel they hook better in addition to being easier on the fish.
- Handle fish as little as possible - release them quickly, while still in the water if possible.
- Have a pair of hook pliers close at hand.
- If fish must be handled, grasp them firmly enough so they won't be dropped, but do not grip the eyes or gills or squeeze the belly. Try not to remove the protective slime. When necessary, fish can often be quieted by turning them upside-down or covering their eyes.
- When a fish is deeply hooked, do not tear out the hook - cut the leader or the hook instead. The fish's chance of survival will increase nearly four fold.
Rules to Know
For the Upper Hudson River (between the Federal Dam at Troy and Hudson Falls) and its tributaries, the following rules are in effect:
- All fish caught must be immediately returned to the water unharmed:
- No fish may be used as bait;
- Statewide open seasons as listed in the "General Angling Regulations" section of the New York State Fishing Regulations Guide (link below) apply to all fish species.
Fines for violation of any of these rules carry a maximum penalty of $250 per violation.
Your cooperation with the catch-and-release regulation is necessary for the state to continue to allow fishing in these waters. We ask you to inform others who may be fishing the river so that they too can avoid the adverse health effects of PCBs while enjoying fishing through catch and release.
For More Information
On fish and contaminants in fish, check out our contaminants in fish web page (link below).
To find out more about PCB remediation efforts, contact DEC's Division of Environmental Remediation at (800)342-9296