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For Release: Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Muskellunge Fishing Season Opens May 30; Regular (Harvest)

Season for Black Bass Opens June 20

May 2 Marked Season Opener for Many Popular Warmwater Sportfish

Significant muskellunge regulation changes are in effect on New York waters for the season opener on May 30, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminded anglers today.

"Although New York has become a destination for bass anglers from around the country, great fishing does not stop with bass," said Commissioner Martens. "Fishing for muskellunge, northern pike, walleye and channel catfish is expected to be outstanding across the state this year."

Statewide (general) regulation changes for muskellunge covering most inland waters are:

  • Opening date moved to the last Saturday in May (May 30, 2015).
  • Minimum length limit increased to 40 inches.
  • Special regulations that differ from the statewide regulations remain in effect on some inland waters such as the Delaware River, Susquehanna River, Chenango River and Greenwood Lake.

For Great Lakes and tributaries:

  • Opening date remains the same: third Saturday in June (June 20, 2015).
  • Minimum size limit has been increased to 54 inches on Lake Ontario and the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers to make it consistent with Lake Erie.

Besides the muskellunge regulation changes, a number of other regulations changes became effective April 1. These can be found in the 2015-16 Freshwater Fishing Regulations guide (PDF, 10 MB) now available at all sporting license sales outlets and on DEC's website.

The freshwater sportfishing season for walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskellunge opened on May 2 in New York State. Saturday, May 2 also marked the opening of the special trophy black bass season on Lake Erie where an angler can keep one 20-inch or longer fish per day through June 20. Anglers can also take advantage of the black bass catch and release season now underway in many waters throughout the state.

Bass anglers should check the New York State Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide on DEC's website to ensure that the water they desire to fish is open to catch and release angling. The regular (harvest) season for black bass opens June 20.

Other popular springtime targets include yellow perch, sunfish and crappie. These species are common throughout the state and provide easy fishing for even novice anglers. A complete listing of 2015 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists can be found on the DEC website.

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 water to water. Baitfish should only be used in waters where their use is permitted. Waters in which the use of baitfish is restricted can be found in the Special Regulations section of the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide. Additional baitfish regulations, including a listing of species that are permitted to be used for bait, can be found in the guide or the baitfish regulations section of the DEC website 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.

Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species and Fish Diseases

DEC advises boaters and anglers to check your boat, trailer and other fishing and boating equipment for any plants or animals that may be clinging to it. Be sure to check bunks, rollers, trim tabs and other likely attachment points on boats and trailers. Following a thorough inspection, DEC encourages boaters to follow the CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY standard:

  1. CLEAN boats, trailers and equipment of any debris, and dispose of it in an upland area or receptacle provided for this purpose.
  2. DRAIN the boat completely, including bilge areas, live wells and bait wells. Water ski and wake board boat operators should be sure to drain all ballast tanks. Many aquatic invasive species can survive in as little as a drop of water, so it is imperative that all water is removed.
  3. DRY all equipment for at least five days before using it in another water body. Longer drying times may be required for difficult to dry equipment or during damp or cool periods. Recommended drying times for various seasons can be found at 100th Meridian Initiative website (link leaves DEC's website). Drying is the simplest and most effective way to ensure equipment does not transport plants or animals.

If boating equipment cannot be completely and thoroughly dried, it must be decontaminated prior to use in another water body. Various decontamination techniques and special techniques to clean boats previously used in zebra mussel infested waters are provided on DEC's website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48221.html. Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found on the DEC website. This is an important way for anglers and boaters to help prevent the spread of potentially damaging invasive plant and animal species (didymo and zebra mussels) and fish diseases (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia and whirling disease).

For a listing of the aquatic invasive species that have been reported from publicly accessible state waters, visit the DEC boating access directory available on DEC's website.

License Requirements
Before heading out to fish, make sure you have a current fishing license. Anyone 16 years of age and older who desires to fish in New York must have a state fishing license. Fishing licenses are also now valid for 365 days from the date of purchase, so please be sure to check that it has not expired.

New York reduced license fees in 2014 for both resident and nonresident anglers, making fishing in New York more affordable than ever. Buying a license has also been made more convenient. Anglers can purchase their license and print it for immediate use on their home computer via the NY License Center. Anglers can also purchase their license by phone by calling 1-866-933-2257, or from the numerous license issuing agents across the state. Those purchasing over the phone will receive a confirmation number allowing them to fish immediately.

Those interested in purchasing a lifetime fishing license should consider a New York State Adventure license, which is incorporated on their NY Driver's License and provides a free fishing themed license plate.

Where to Fish
Anglers searching for places to fish should visit the DEC's fishing page. An interactive map of public fishing locations can also be found on the DEC website.

NY's Open for Fishing and Hunting
Governor 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.

Under the initiative, significant improvements have been made to the state fish hatchery system and network of boating and fishing. The 2015-16 Enacted Budget adds an additional $8 million for state land access projects and an additional $4 million for the state's hatcheries in NY Works funding which included repaving and painting at Caledonia Hatchery, and the acquisition of 16 new large stocking trucks and associated fish transport equipment. Other projects slated for completion this year are replacement of fish rearing raceways (Chateaugay and Caledonia), installation of new water treatment and heating equipment (Chautauqua and Oneida), and replacement of the roof at Salmon River Hatchery.

Over the past five years, more than $6 million has been invested in developing new and renovating existing boat launches. These projects include new boat launch facilities on Cuba Lake (Allegany County), Round Lake (Saratoga County) and Point Peninsula Isthmus and Three Mile Bay on Lake Ontario (Jefferson County). Boat launch renovations have been completed on Second Pond (Lower Saranac Lake) in Franklin County, Great Sacandaga Lake in Saratoga County, Lake Champlain (Peru Docks) in Clinton County and Schroon Lake (Horicon) in Warren County. By the beginning of the 2015 boating season reconstruction of boat launches on Upper Saranac Lake (Franklin County) and Forge Pond - Peconic River (Suffolk County) will have been completed. A new boat launch at Lake George Beach on Lake George will also be completed for boaters to enjoy.

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