Program Kicks Off Next Weekend with Free Ice Fishing for Residents and Visitors Supports Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative New York's Sport Fishing Industry Generates an Estimated $1.8 billion in Economic Activity Annually, Supporting Nearly 17,000 Jobs Statewide
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the first of several free fishing events in New York State for 2017 will take place next weekend on Saturday, February 18 and Sunday, February 19. During these designated days, New York residents and non-residents are permitted to fish for free without a fishing license at any of the state’s 7,500 lakes and ponds or 70,000 miles of rivers and streams.
"No matter the season, New York is home to some of the best fishing in the nation," Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. "These free days are a prime opportunity for anglers of all experience levels, whether they are New Yorkers or visitors, to get out and experience for themselves the great fishing on the lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams in every corner of this state."
Based on the popularity of the program, Governor Cuomo has also designated June 24-25, September 23 (National Hunting and Fishing Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day) as free fishing days. While a New York State fishing license is not required to participate, all other statewide fishing regulations remain in effect.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation reminds those venturing forth on the ice that four inches or more of solid ice is considered to be safe for accessing bodies of water on foot. Ice fishermen should note that ice thickness can vary on different bodies of water and even on the same body of water. Anglers should be particularly wary of areas of moving water and around boat docks and houses where bubblers may be installed to reduce ice buildup. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be considered evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. Testing the thickness of ice can be done easily with an auger or ice spud at various spots.
Those new to ice fishing are encouraged to download the Ice Fishing Chapter of DEC’s new I FISH NY Beginners’ Guide to Freshwater Fishing for information on how to get started with ice fishing. Additional information, including a list of waters open to ice fishing, can found on the DEC ice fishing web page and the Public Lakes and Ponds map.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Winters in New York can be long, but getting outdoors to experience this exciting form of outdoor recreation can make the season much more enjoyable. Fishing is a proud tradition in New York State and it not only provides recreational enjoyment but is a vital economic generator, supporting local economies statewide."
The expanded free fishing days program is part of Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, which under the 2016-17 budget provides $3 million for State land access projects and $4 million for hunting and fishing infrastructure.
The 2015-16 budget also created a new capital account, which, along with federal Pittman-Robertson funds, will be used to manage, protect and restore fish and wildlife habitats and will improve and develop public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation. This year's commitment builds on the previous $6 million in funding for 50 new projects to provide access to approximately 380,000 acres of existing State lands for recreation, including boat launches, bird-watching areas, trails, and hunting blinds, and $8 million for upgrades and improvements to fish hatcheries statewide.
The Free Fishing Days program began in 1991 to give people who might not fish a chance to try the rewarding sport at no cost, to introduce people to a new hobby, and to encourage people to support the sport by purchasing a New York State fishing license.
In addition to these free fishing days, there will be dozens of free fishing clinics and events held at locations across the state. For more details, visit the DEC website. The public is advised to check back regularly as new events are regularly added to the list throughout the year.
Free fishing events give people a chance to try the thrilling sport of fishing at no cost, and people are encouraged to support the sport by purchasing a NYS fishing license. To learn more, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6091.html.