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For Release: Tuesday, March 17, 2015

State to Sponsor Spring Family Fishing Festival at Belmont Lake

April 11 Festival Marks Start of New York's Spring Trout Stocking Program on Long Island

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) will hold their annual Spring Family Fishing Festival on Saturday, April 11 at Belmont Lake State Park. Additional sponsors for the fishing festival include the Natural Heritage Trust, the Fisherman Magazine, and radio stations 106.1 WBLI and 102.3 WBAB.

"Freshwater fishing is an activity that the whole family can enjoy, especially on Long Island," Regional Director Peter A. Scully said. "The spring fishing festival at Belmont Lake State Park is an excellent way to kick off the fishing season and introduce the whole family to the sport with no license needed to participate. At this festival, you can learn about freshwater fishing opportunities on Long Island and local fishing clubs, try your hand at fishing for trout, and the kids can participate in the casting contest and other fun activities."

Festival activities begin at 10 a.m. and are provided free of charge. Activities will include open fishing, fishing instruction, fly casting demonstrations and fish cleaning services. Additionally, a display area will be set up by state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and local fishing clubs. Participants are urged to try their hands at fly casting, as demonstrations will be on-going. Loaner rods and free bait will be available to participants throughout the day. As the supply of loaner rods is limited, participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing tackle if they have it.

Children's activities also begin at 10 a.m. and will include an inflatable slide (weather dependent), the "Spring Fling" casting contest, as well as hands-on educational displays by the DEC's Education Unit. Children participating in the casting contest will have a chance to win some great prizes, which will be supplied by DEC's I FISH NY Program, OPRHP, the Fisherman Magazine and The Natural Heritage Trust.

Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This 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, $10 million in NY Works funding has been dedicated to fish hatchery repairs and 50 new land and water access projects such as boat launches, hunting blinds, trails and parking areas.

Under the initiative, the 2015-16 Executive Budget proposes to establish an additional $8 million for state land access projects and an additional $4 million for the state's hatcheries in NY Works funding. The Budget also proposes to create a new capital account which along with federal Pittman-Robertson funds will be used to manage, protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat, and to improve and develop public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation.

The Spring Fishing Festival has been designated a Free Fishing Event, so the freshwater fishing license requirement for anglers age 16 and older has been suspended for this event.

The festival highlights DEC's spring trout stocking program in Nassau and Suffolk counties conducted in March and April. Prior to the festival, Belmont Lake will be stocked with close to 4,000 brown, brook and rainbow trout by DEC and OPRHP. Upper Twin Pond in Wantagh, Oyster Bay Mill Pond, Massapequa Creek and Reservoir, as well as 17 other Long Island lakes will also be stocked with trout by DEC, providing excellent prospects for spring fishing in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

To further encourage fishing in New York State, Governor Cuomo signed legislation in 2012 expanding the opportunity for free fishing clinics, allowing more New Yorkers to experience fishing for the first time by enabling DEC to increase the number of free clinics that can be held throughout the state. The Free Fishing Days program began in 1991 to allow all people the opportunity to sample the incredible fishing New York State has to offer.

In the event of inclement weather, call I FISH NY at (631) 444-0283 or Belmont Lake State Park at (631) 667-5055. There is no rain date for this event.

A vehicle use fee of $8 will be in effect. Parking is free for Empire Pass holders. The 2014 Empire Pass (leaves DEC's website) can be purchased for $65 online, at state park offices or by phone at 518-474-0458.

For more information about the festival, call I FISH NY at (631) 444-0283 or visit DEC's Learn to Fish page.

For information about freshwater fishing on Long Island or the spring trout stocking program in Nassau and Suffolk counties, call the DEC Bureau of Fisheries at (631) 444-0280, e-mail fwfish1@dec.ny.gov or visit Long Island/NYC Fishing page.

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